It was one of those routine work days, I branched by my local supermarket before reaching home to buy a few groceries and snacks. At the entrance, on the newspaper stand, I saw a headline that rang a bell on the cover page of the ABC newspaper.
I immediately decided to buy the paper and take a copy home for further reading. What I found out was so shocking and frustrating. The paper had lifted this entire article from The Wire Perspective Blog and published it under the name of one of their staff. It took me a while to believe that a seemingly professional outfit like ABC Africa Newspaper would have such gross disregard for copyright matters. Anger welled up inside me and I realised that I had to do something. Interestingly, I had been told by a number of readers before that some consultants were passing off my articles as theirs while marketing their business services. This is something I had never verified but this time round, I had a solid culprit.
I made a few calls to my seniors in the field of writing and most told me to just turn a blind eye claiming that it is normal and I would be wasting time and resources pursuing the matter. Unfortunately for me, I do not usually take no for an answer, so I made a choice to follow the matter to its most logical conclusion.
This is how I recalled an old acquaintance, Mr Charles Batambuze, who I quickly reached out to for advice. He wasn’t too bad and immediately referred me to a law firm KTA Advocates that offers free legal services on Intellectual Property matters for the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation and its members. Progress!!
I had a chance to interface with Counsels Ivan Ojakol and Edwin Tabaro who took me through the details and possible outcomes depending on what direction I chose to take on ABC Africa Newspaper matter.
Amidst all this, I was already communicating to ABC Africa over this matter and the kind of response I got from them was heart wrenching. The arrogance with which they initially responded to my communication made me question whether they have professionals at the helm of the organisation. How can you claim to be a professional journalist and you do not have any respect for Copyright?
Upon receiving a notice from my lawyers intending to sue, the tone of communication changed and they became more responsive. It took some back and forth before we settled for them to publish an apology as well as republishing the article under my name.
I felt a sigh of relief having concluded this matter in the most logical way and thanks to Karuhanga Tabaro Advocates who offered me an entirely free service, I was able to demonstrate to the chaps at ABC Africa Newspaper that arrogance doesn’t always pay off.
Are you an author who is also tired of such infringement of your works? Do something about it. Do not sit back and relax. Until we start making these infringers uncomfortable, they shall keep going about it like it is Business As Usual.
James Wire is a Technology & Business Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda.
Follow him @wirejames on Twitter
Email – lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com