It is with great delight that the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) joins the intellectual Property Community in Nigeria and globally to commemorate this year's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Day, a day set aside to create awareness on the role Intellectual Property (IP) plays in fostering innovation, creativity and economic growth.
In the year 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organisation declared 26th April of every year as WIPO Day to celebrate and draw attention to the importance and contributions of Intellectual Property as a means of promoting development of Knowledge-driven economies.
The theme of this year; Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity is of immense importance to NCC as it celebrates all the brilliant, resourceful, result-oriented and game changing Nigerian Women who are driving advancement in various spheres, irrespective of numerous challenges, especially in hitherto male dominated fields.
In all areas of creativity; movies, animation, music, fashion design, sculpture, dance, literature, art, weaving, photography, software development, broadcast e.t.c. Nigerian Women are redefining processes and final outcome of creative expressions.
I wish to reiterate the essence of this year’s IP day celebration as captured in the WIPO commemorative message thus:
"The important and inspiring contributions of countless women around the globe are powering change in our world. Their "can do" attitude is an inspiration to us all, and their remarkable achievements are invaluable legacy for young girls today with aspirations to become the inventors and creators of tomorrow."
More than ever before, women are taking up leadership roles and making their voices heard in the science, technology, business and the arts. This is good news. With women and men working together, we strengthen humanity's hand, and improve our ability to enrich our shared cultural wealth and develop effective solutions to alleviate poverty, boost global health, and safeguard the environment.
The time is ripe to reflect on ways to ensure that increasing numbers of women and girls across the globe engage in innovation and creativity."
As the popular saying goes: "he who educates a woman, educates the whole world"; we are therefore committed to supporting women in creativity and urge all stakeholders to support the ingenuity of women creators by ensuring adequate patronage, fair playing ground and promulgating favourable legislations.
In keeping with this proposition, the Commission under my charge is pushing for reforms of the current Copyright Act with a view to creating an enabling environment for a more competitive creative industry that will guarantee opportunities for all in the emerging global digital economy.
Following the launch of the Reform of the Nigerian Copyright System in November, 2012 by the Commission, the Federal Executive Council in December 2017 approved the repealing of the current Copyright Act and the enactment of the New Copyright Bill.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) headed by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2017, ratified Four (4) WIPO Treaties initiated by the Commission with the subsequent depositing of the Instruments of Ratification at the 57th General Assembly of WIPO member states in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 5, 2017.
We have continued to maintain a policy of zero tolerance against piracy and other copyright infringements by ensuring tougher sanctions for pirates.
From the year 2011 till date, the Commission has conducted Three Hundred and Forty-Six (346) anti-piracy operations; Seized over Nine Million, Three Hundred and Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifteen (9,307,615) units of pirated copyright protected works; valued at Nine Billion, Six Hundred and One Million, Five Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Ten Naira (N9, 601, 517, 010); arrested Seven Hundred and twenty-one (721) suspected pirates; and secured Fifty-Eight (58) criminal convictions against copyright offenders at the various Federal High Courts across the Country.
In collaboration with the Nigerian customs, the Commission within the period also impounded a total of Twenty Eight (28) containers containing pirated copyright protected works; confiscated Seven Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Three Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty-Seven (749,316,187) units of pirated works and contrivances , valued at Ten Billion, Three Hundred Million Naira (N10,300,000,000).
Due to the robust Enforcement & Prosecutorial activities of the Commission and the rising profile of the Nigerian Creative Industry, Nigeria has consistently been off the United States of America 301 list of Countries that are not seriously addressing IP abuses including Copyright.
The Commission has also continued to promote and strengthen rights management schemes to enhance the practical benefits of the copyright system to authors.
In July 2014, the Commission launched its Copyright e-Registration platform, the first of its kind in Africa, which has witnessed a high wave of interactive performance resulting in the registration of 8,173 Copyright works. The platform has facilitated the creation of a reliable database of copyright works of Nigerian authors, which is available in real time for purposes of rights clearance by prospective licensees and users of such works.
A new Collective Management Organization (CMO) Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS) a collective society for audiovisual works in Nigeria was given approval for operation in November 2014.
The Reproductive Rights Association of Nigeria (REPRONIG), the CMO for literary works in Nigeria, was revamped with the collaboration of Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE); International Federation of Reproductive Rights Organisation (IFRRO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); while their operating license was renewed by the Commission in 2017.
Until recently, the predominant CMO in the music sector, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) demonstrated great potentials in delivering on royalty payments to its members. The current leadership challenge in COSON, which arose in December 2017 is being addressed by the Commission, to ensure that the society operates within the framework of extant laws, and maintains an acceptable level of transparency and accountability, and to safeguard the rights of its members.
WIPO an organ of the United Nations (UN) has approved the establishment of a WIPO External Office in Nigeria for the African region. Nigeria is one of the two African Countries to benefit from such facility, which is expected to bring WIPO services closer to the African Region, and enhance the visibility of IP administration in the Region, particularly the host countries.
I therefore use this platform to reassure the entire Intellectual Property community of the Commission’s commitment to explore all avenues in creating an enabling environment for the protection of their rights and advancement of the sector while urging all stakeholders to support our efforts.
Have a happy Celebration!!!