Makerere Lecturer Sues Bank of Uganda for 1 Billion Shillings in Copyright Infringement Suit

Sylvia Katende Nabiteeko, a senior lecturer at Makerere University’s Margaret Towrel School appeared before Justice Irene Mulyagonja at the Commercial Court in Kampala yesterday in a copyright infringement suit she instituted in December last year against Uganda’s Central Bank, Bank of Uganda (BoU).

Nabiteeko is claiming 1 billion shillings from the BoU whom she claims reproduced her sculpture on the 20,000 bank note (as pictured above) without her consent and without giving her any form of the compensation.

Nabiteeko’s case is complicated by the following set of facts. Her sculpture: “Social Economic Growth of Kampala City” was the winning piece of artwork in a design competition to mark Kampala City Council’s 100 years of service in the year 2000. For her efforts, she was awarded a winner’s prize of 1 million Shillings. An apparent condition of the competition was that the winning artwork would be magnified and placed in Centenary Park, downtown Kampala. However, no evidence has been by Nabiteeko’s lawyer to show that the conditions of competition stated that the winner would retain all IP rights to the artwork including any reproduction, adaptation, modification, etc.

On its part, the BoU through it’s lawyers is arguing that the photo on the bank note was taken from the Centenary Park monument and therefore it denies infringing Nabiteeko’s copyright or any other IP rights in respect of her original sculpture.

Therefore, the court has been asked to make a determination whether or not the BoU did in fact infringe Nabiteeko’s IP rights in the sculpture. The matter had been adjourned until 26th April 2012.

Comment:

Although Nabiteeko’s case is unlikely to succeed, IPKenya argues that the court must uphold her moral rights to the original sculpture design that inspired both the monument in Centenary Park and the photo on Uganda’s 20,000 shillings legal tender. For instance, the court could order that the Kampala City Council replace the plaque on the Centenary Park monument which incorrectly attributes the design of the monument to one Prof. Pilkington Ssengendo.

Media reports:

[1] “Makerere don wants sh1b from BoU for artwork” – New Vision.
[2] “MUK Don Stammers In Court Over Shs1bn Compensation” – Red Pepper UG

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