Ugandan Composer Wants Royalties For The National Anthem

from the welcome-to-ownership-culture dept

One of the unfortunate byproducts of a culture that teaches us that something like a song can be "owned" and that each time it's played the "owner" needs to get paid, is you end up with situations like the following one, where the composer of Uganda's national anthem is suing the government for copyright infringement, claiming it owes him royalties for every time the song has been played by the government. Without knowing the details of Ugandan copyright law, there's a bit of a problem in that it appears the government did pay him (not very much) initially for composing the song, which would suggest that it was a work for hire, and he shouldn't have retained the copyright. However, from the sound of things, that wasn't particularly explicit. Either way, it sounds like cold hard cash outweighs national pride -- though, it is odd that the guy waited 45 years before suddenly realizing that he should get paid.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Work for hire =/ giving up copyright

    Just because a service is work for hire, doesnt necessarily mean that the producer gives up copyright on the product.

    Take wedding photographers, for example. They almost all are work for hire, yet many of them, as is spelled out in their contracts, retain copyright on the images, freely using them as they wish.

    Yes, not all photographers do this - the key factor is what and how it is spelled out in a contract.

    Hopefully the govt of Uganda had a contract with this guy in which details were spelled out. Otherwise, they may be in for a world of hurt.

     

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  2.  
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    some old guy, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: Work for hire =/ giving up copyright

    Right, in "work for hire" the photographer loses copyright to the customer.

    Since he's a jackass, before he takes a pic, he makes the unwitting customer sign a contract whereupon the customer forfeits his rights to the copyright, and they fall back to the photographer. That's called a scam by most people, but for some reason is the norm in the photography industry.

     

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  3.  
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    alex, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Work for hire =/ giving up copyright

    riiiight, because even though its a 'scam', youre the only one smart enough that in your 12 years of life you have singlehandedly determined that every wedding photographer who has a contract retaining copyright is scamming his customers.

     

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  4.  
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    Nick Stamoulis, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:25am

    Hmm either it's time to get a new anthem or wait until this man passes away. That's kind of ridiculous no?

     

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  5.  
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    some old guy, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Work for hire =/ giving up copyright

    We've discussed this numerous times right here on techdirt.

     

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  6.  
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    I can haz cheezburger?, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Schrodinger's Cat: Royalty Style

    Back when the Government originally solicited and selected this Anthem, would this have been selected if it had royalties attached, or would something else be selected?

     

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  7.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Re: Work for hire =/ giving up copyright

    ...many of them, as is spelled out in their contracts, retain copyright on the images, freely using them as they wish.

    I've been married twice. The last time, all of the contracts I saw did say that they retained the copyright but specifically said that they couldn't reuse them without permission. The point being that they couldn't sell them to anyone but you but you ,i>would have to pay if you wanted additional copies.

    This time, all of the photographers are boasting about giving away the CDs and rights to the images as part of the package.

    The free market rules. :)

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    Why would it matter if the guy died? Wouldn't his estate be entitled to the money for another 15 million years or is that just US copyright?

    :p

     

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  9.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    What a moron

    If something I created were selected for National Anything, I would be thrilled. I would gladly let the government use it for little to no money. First of all, I still love my country (US), despite the current reprehensible leadership. But, more selfishly, don't you think that "composer of the national anthem" is a title you might be able to leverage elsewhere in your career?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    I guess it is a crazy idea that someone could "create" a song, and in that "creation" they would own what they "create." Gosh you are a moron, mike.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:37am

    I guess it is a crazy idea that someone could "create" a song, and in that "creation" they would own what they "create."

    Yep, it is. Since they didn't create each note, instrument, word, etc. specifically, what they are really doing is a collaborative work, and they should have to get permission from the very first person to use those specific notes, the people who built the instruments in the very first place, the first people to use the instruments, anyone else who has ever used the same notes in music, the first person to use any of those words and anyone else who has used those words, and God help you if you use a cliche in your lyrics...

    All art is collaborative and should be done for passion and enjoyment or it isn't art at all.

     

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  12.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Oops... The above was me, sorry.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    I can see the scam now... my uncle passed away while owed millions of dollars in national anthem royalities... send me your banking info so that I can spirit the funds out of the country.

    Dr Fic Ticious
    Musical Curator
    National Anthem Library
    University of Uganda

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Canada just went through almost the same thing... except it was the theme song for Hockey Night in Canada (arguably the second national anthem).

    The Canadian Broadcast Corporation balked at paying more royalties to the lawyers for the composer and then a competing network bought the rights to the song.

    Soon we'll have our own homegrown (groan) reality show to pick a new theme song.

     

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  15.  
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    guy one, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    this guy is about as unpatriotic as Ann and Nancy Wilson of "Heart", for being publicly upset at the McCain Camping for using "Barracuda". does not matter what party you support, thats just plain pathetic for a professional musician to complain about, let alone SUE????

     

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  16.  
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    Hampster Dance, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    I guess it is a crazy idea that someone could "create" a person, and in that "creation" they would own what they "create."

    Gosh, your a moron, anon.

     

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  17.  
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    Oscar Holito, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 2:21pm

    What a crazy guy

    Why don't you be proud of your Country. I am living in America and the way Americans are so lovers and proud of their Country make me to be so sorry on the Composer.
    When I was still in school, they could ask in examinations that who composed the Uganda Anthem. You should been very happy that the all Ugandans sing what you have compossed and you are well known by Name and you are in the History of Uganda, you shouldn't have open your mouth for money.

     

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  18.  
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    Jason, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    Re:

    That had nothing to do with party affiliation or patriotism either one.

    It was just some rock stars who didn't want some cranky old white guy who rambles on about his war record to be associated with their hit rock song.

     

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  19.  
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    Jason, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    That's just ridiculous, Coward. To claim creation of something is just flat out egomania. No human being has ever created anything either real or abstract.

    We're really only capable of sub-creative works.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 5:41pm

    "One of the unfortunate byproducts of a culture that teaches us that something like a song can be "owned""

    If you're a consumer just be happy you're lucky enough to have us creators around to create the stuff you cherish so much.

     

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  21.  
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    NotBob, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Not so odd, really

    "it is odd that the guy waited 45 years before suddenly realizing that he should get paid."

    It's not so odd, Mike, when you realize that it was only recently that a lawyer was able to track him down and convince him he was being taken. All the while charging by the minute to consult with him.

    PS: One would think I had an axe to grind with a lawyer but I actually don't. I just find the actions of the majority of them, distasteful, shall we say?

     

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  22.  
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    Mike (profile), Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:45pm

    Re:

    If you're a consumer just be happy you're lucky enough to have us creators around to create the stuff you cherish so much.

    Huh? What does ownership have to do with creation? It's been shown, quite clearly, that copyright and such false "ownership" concepts actually hinder creation of new content.

    So what was your point again?

     

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