This epic event which was held at SFG Conference Hall, Federal secretariat complex, Abuja, was witnessed by dignitaries from Government Ministries and Parastatals, International communities, private sectors and stakeholders in the copyright industry.
In his address at the occasion, the Director General, Mr. Afam Ezekude noted that the event was very significant for the Commission, and indeed the entire copyright sector, as it is the first time the Commission is approving a collecting management organization for the audiovisual works, comprising essentially of film and other audiovisual works made for broadcast.
The DG informed that the Commission received application from AVRS sometime in January 2014 and after a painstaking process of verification and assessment, came to the conclusion that the company has complied with all relevant statutory requirements, under the Copyright Act, cap C28, Laws of the Federation f Nigeria; 2004 and the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007.
Mr. Ezekude further noted that the Commission considered, among other things, that the establishment of AVRS followed a broad-based consultative process spanning more than three years, which allowed for the participation of the majority of stakeholders in the audiovisual industry and also benefitted from technical assistance and support of the World Intellectual property Organization (WIPO), and relevant regulatory and policy institutions of government.
He explained, for the avoidance of doubt, that Collecting Societies are essentially association of copyright owners, formed with the objective of negotiating and granting copyright licenses and collecting royalties on behalf of copyright owners and distributing same to them. These societies are crucial in delivering the economic gains of copyright to authors and right owners, particularly in an increasingly complex environment of exploitation of creative content, owing to advancement of technology.
According to the DG NCC, by this approval, AVRS is the only organization which by law, is permitted to carry out collective management of rights in audiovisual works (film and broadcast) in Nigeria. This position therefore is in line with the current provisions of the copyright Act, and also reflects the policy of the Commission to ensure that an approved collective management organization represents the broadest possible interest within the category of work/rights it seeks to administer.
He also pointed out that this policy takes into account the practical imperatives of collective management as non-profit service oriented undertaking; the need to avoid confusion in the licensing environment that would arise where more than one organization is approved to license users in respect of the same category of works and the need to ensure that users of copyright works have a simple and uncomplicated access to works they require.
While the Mr. Ezekude congratulated the Governing Board, and members of AVRS; He however the importance of maintaining a transparent and accountable operating system as this would ensure that right owners benefit from a sound management of their rights, while users are also assured of non-arbitrary terms of licensing. He therefore urged the management of AVRS to follow strictly the operational guidelines stipulated in the Copyright Act, and the Regulations. He warned that the Commission would not shy away from applying necessary sanctions for any punishable breach, including revocation of the operating license.
In his closing remark, the DG Ncc made a clarion call to right owners in the audiovisual industry to see this approval as a beginning of a new era and enlist their support for the approved society to carry out its mandate efficiently.
Mr. Afam Ezekude maintained that the Commission on its part will continue to provide a conducive environment for copyright owners to benefit from their creative investments stressing that the Commission is resolute in its drive for enhanced copyright protection, awareness generation and zero tolerance for piracy of creative works.
In his remarks the Chairman AVRS, Mr. Mahmood Ali Balogun expressed profound gratitude to the Commission especially the Director General, Mr. Afam Ezekude and the entire Management, other stakeholders and the Chairman, COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji for being of immense help during the process culminating in the approval.