Piracy at national and international levels poses one of the biggest challenges to the vast global film industry.
By Steven Candia
Piracy at national and international levels poses one of the biggest challenges to the vast global film industry that rakes in over whooping US35b (about sh87.5 trillion), it has emerged.
Piracy at national level, it also emerged, is not only stifling the development of the young Ugandan film industry, but is also threatening its very existence and if nothing is done may kill the industry said to have a lot of potential.
The grim details emerged as Uganda joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Intellectual Property Day, with the theme: Movies a Global Passion but in the Uganda’s context skewed to: Movies, a Global Passion-Emerging Opportunities for Uganda.
The local movie industry, it was noted, contributes substantially to the economic development of the country.
“Piracy world over is such a big problem and if not checked would bring the entire film industry to its knees,” Minister of Justice Rtd. Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafire said in a speech read over the weekend by Keturah Katunguka, the Acting Director Legal and Advisory Services in the ministry of justice.
The celebrations organized by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) started with a procession through the city, culminating in speeches and an exhibition at the national theatre.
Earlier on James Wasula, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Performing Right Society (UPRS) had echoed the same fears in his speech in which he implored government to crack the whip on piracy among other vices that have dogged the local film industry by enforcing Intellectual Property (IP) rights.
“These foreign films which are downloaded over the internet are killing the local film industry and creativity at home because the people here invest colossal sums of money in production but their products cannot compete with the foreign ones which are too cheap," he said.
"We must fight piracy if the industry is to survive."
The local industry which has over 80 registered production houses, and has produced 426 films since 2006 and employs over 15, 000 people, has enormous potential to compete favorably with Bollywood, the Indian movie industry.
Speaking at the same venue, the Registrar General Bemanya Twebaze said IP does not only seek to benefit creators but the society as a whole and therefore should be embraced.
“When we have a sound IP base geared towards social and economic growth, Uganda will benefit from a wider base of knowledge, increased investment in research and development, broader support for creative arts, greater access to open markets and better consumer protection,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by the URSB board secretary, Judy Obitre Gama.
Otafire urged the players in the local movie industry to embrace technological advancements in the digital world so as to improve quality and compete favorably in the competitive global industry.
Government, he said, has taken deliberate efforts to improve the legal regime with regard to IP by equipping judicial officers and law enforcement agencies with more skills and reviewing a number of legislations related to IP.
Piracy biggest threat to global, local film industry