IP EXPERT CANVASSES MANDATORY COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION, WHISTLE BLOWER POLICY ON PIRACY

Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been urged to initiate a regulatory scheme for compulsory registration of copyright and a whistle blower policy to strengthen its renewed drive for enhanced copyright protection and effective anti-piracy enforcement in the country.

An Intellectual Property (IP) Lecturer and Acting Head of Department of the College of Law, Kwara State University, Malete, Dr. Abdullahi Saliu Ishola made this call in Ilorin yesterday (6th November 2013) while delivering a guest lecture on NCC anniversary theme, “Changing the Copyright Narrative for Wealth Creation” as part of activities organised by NCC Kwara State Office in commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Commission.

Proffering some practical solutions towards changing the copyright narrative in Nigeria, Dr. Ishola stated that the Commission should initiate proactive measures to check the prevalence of piracy, engender positive attitude of copyright owners and enlist an active role for right owners in the copyright system.

Calling for a review of the Copyright Collective Management Organisations Regulations, he urged the Commission to invoke its discretionary powers in sections 38(1) and 39 of the Copyright Act to approve CMOs as its enforcement agents by appointing some of them as copyright inspectors.

According to him, “NCC should accredit NGOs as copyright activists like the Corporate Affairs Commission accredits lawyers, accountants and chartered secretaries to work for it as partners, relying on Section 45 of the Copyright Act which prescribes that the supervising minister can prescribe regulations for purposes of the Act”.

The senior lecturer opined that copyright registration should not be optional, adding that all educational materials “should be officially copyrighted so that when people want to study, the registered works will be a standard”.

He expressed concern that due to high cost, a lot of foreign books were being pirated and urged NCC to encourage foreign publishers to come and publish the Nigerian edition of their works in the country to reduce costs.

Noting that most authors were only interested in reputation, not really in wealth creation, he admonished NCC to introduce the ‘most economically viable copyright award’ to boost creative enterprise for national wealth creation.

Dr. Ishola who commended the NCC efforts at implementation of its mandates, canvassed for religious and cultural support for copyright, and underscored the need for awareness that Islamic law supports copyright through adoption of ‘waqf’ endowment for exploitation of religious works and creation of employment opportunities.

Chairman on the occasion, Prof. Olu Obafemi, represented by Prof. Abubakar Abdullahi, both of the Department of English, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), in his remarks, emphasised that in order to change the copyright narrative for wealth creation in Nigeria, the scourge of piracy must be tamed.

Prof. Obafemi expressed concern that the copyright industry was not being adequately funded and decried the attitude of Nigerians in patronising cheap pirated works without minding the loss to copyright owners.

He noted that unduly long litigation constituted a drawback to the fight against piracy, adding that lack of incentive in the creative industry was a discouragement to creative enterprise in the country.

Director-General of NCC, Mr. John O. Asein, while appreciating the support of stakeholders in the State, reassured of the Commission’s partnership with the Kwara State Government and key players in the creative industry to enable a vibrant exploitation of the rich cultural endowments of the state, especially in the creative arts.

Represented by the Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Vincent A. Oyefeso, the Director-General stated: “Today, we are in the global era of knowledge economy and Kwara State can leverage on the copyright system to grow its state economy on a sustainable basis as well as contribute to the national economy. In this wise, NCC is committed to continue to partner with the State Government to attain its development goals, especially in the creative sector.”

He added: “The Commission is also committed to enhanced collaboration with all authors and stakeholders in the copyright based industry to change the copyright narrative for sustained and sustainable wealth creation and national development.”

In an earlier guest lecture, a Senior Lecturer in Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, Dr. Kayode Adam, had noted that the current copyright narrative was inherited or borrowed from the British legal system, adding that Nigeria’s copyright policies should be based on its fundamental national values.

Commending the NCC for identifying the need for a new national copyright narrative, Dr. Adam stated that a new copyright narrative would serve three purposes, namely guide the adoption of a national copyright policy; assist judges in correct interpretation of our copyright law; help in creating awareness on Nigeria’s copyright values and law.

Chairman of Kwara State House Committee on Land, Housing and Urban Development,Honourable Awodiji Tayo Felix, in a goodwill message, assured that the State House of Assembly would support the Commission’s bid to review the Copyright Act in the interestof right owners and for sustainable development of the copyright industries and the economy.

NCC State Coordinator, Mr. Justina Akinwumi, in her welcome address, stated that the NCC 30th Anniversary celebration was an opportunity for the Commission and all stakeholders “to come together to assess and analyse the journey so far and chart a way forward for economic development through creativity”.

The Kwara State lecture on NCC 30th Anniversary was attended by the cream of copyright stakeholders, including the Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin Branch, Kamaldeen Konibaje; the representative of Kwara State Commissioner of Police, CSP Mukaila Yusuf; FRSC Sector Commandant, Mr. J. A. Awoade; representative of NSCDC Commandant, Assistant Commandant Akanbi Omotosho; the Head of Branch, National Library in Kwara State, Mrs Kafayat Olani; Executive Director, Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture, Mrs Bisi Oyewole; and Head of Federal Government Establishments in Kwara State, Mrs Folashade Boriowo.

 

Vincent A. Oyefeso

Director, Public Affairs

For: Director-General