Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bank of Uganda sued over Shs20,000 note

A senior lecturer at Makerere University has sued Bank of Uganda for using her artistic works on the Shs20,000 note without her consent. Sylvia Nabiteeko Katende, a senior lecturer at Makerere University’s Margaret Trowel School of Industrial Art in the Department of Sculpture and Drawing, says the sculpture on the left hand face of the Shs20,000 note is part of her artistic works, and that the Central Bank used it without her approval.
Karuhanga, Tabaro & Associates filed a suit on behalf of Nabiteeko in the High Court ten days before Christmas. The suit is valued at Shs1 bn and above. Bank of Uganda was expected to lodge its defence by New Year’s Eve.
The case is expected to delve into the murky debate of copyright, where establishing proof of ownership beyond reasonable doubt is never easy. The suit is also a stern test for Uganda’s copyright law, which has been the subject of dispute in Uganda’s arts and culture industry, and has on many instances been labeled weak.
Yet this case is bound to raise far more interesting questions about the manner under which the Central Bank hired the professionals to design the notes, throwing at the centre of the dispute a name that occupies a special place in Uganda’s recent history; General Elly Tumwine. That Tumwine is also a patron of Makerere University’s Margaret Trowel School of Industrial Art, makes this case the more fascinating.

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