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Author petitions DPP to prosecute Tourism Ministry for copyright infringement

Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission for a usage where such permission is required.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Edward Mashate, a Ugandan author based in United Kingdom has petitioned the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to expeditiously refer criminal proceedings against the Tourism Ministry for infringing on his copyright.

In his July 22, 2020, letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mashate accuses the Tourism Ministry of copying his work without authorization.”The matter concerns copyright reproduction of my work by Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities and giving false information to court with intentions to defraud me by concealment of the contents of copyright infringement”, reads the letter in part.

According to Mashate, the Ministry picked material from his book titled “Introduction to the Concept of Greenhouse Tourism,” that was first published in 2010 and used it in the National Development Plan II without his consent. He explains that his book was in response to a call for global awareness on issues of climate change and the need for sustainable development.

Mashate contends that between 2011 and 2014, he engaged government through a number of ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, Environment and the National Planning Authority, among others where he reportedly shared his ideas and made presentations on climate change. He explains that he signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities on how to further promote the concepts in question.

He however says that government without his permission went ahead and infringed on his copyright by hijacking and reproducing some substantial parts of his work in the “National Development Plan II” –NDP that was published in 2015 and has since been widely distributed without his license.

Mashate says the failure to acknowledge his input in the National Development Plan II in a number of sectors, tourism inclusive amounts to fraud. He alleges that he instituted a civil matter against the Attorney General which prompted the Tourism Ministry to apply and join the suit.

“In my discovery I can state that the Ministry has committed an offense of fraud by manipulating the court process through hiding behind the Attorney General to conceal an offense they committed willfully. The ministry committed offenses provided for in section 47 of the Copyright and Neighboring Act 2006”, reads the complaint in part.

This particular section provides for offenses for the illegal publication, broadcast, performance and distribution of works without a license or authorisation from the rightful owner or their agent. Mashatte also alleges that the ministry abused court process by refusing to attend mediation proceedings in the civil suit on false pretense and chose to conceal copyright crimes and as such misled the court.

He wants the office of DPP to take appropriate action against Ministry of Tourism. The deputy DPP spokesperson Jacquelyn Okui confirmed to URN that they had received Mashatte’s complaint saying they will act soon.

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