Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim Lawal CON, and some key Senators,have indicated the commitment of the National Assembly
to its speedy hearing and passage into law.
At the second public hearing on the Copyright Bills by the
Senate Joint Committee on Trade and Investment and the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters,the Senate President, represented by Senator Aliu Sabi Abdullahi, underscored that the proposed amendment of the Copyright Act 2004 has a crucial role to play in the development of the creative industry and the nation’s economy.
In their separate remarks during the hearing on 12th October 2021, Senator Francis Adenigba and Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, Chairmen of the Committees on Trade and Judiciary respectively, gave assurances that in view of the relevance of copyright to the national quest for sustainable national development, the legislative process for enactment of the Copyright Bills would be prioritised.
Senator Opeyemi lamented that despite the fact that Nigerians were most creative, there was nothing to show in terms of return on their creativity and investments.
In his words, “The way the National Assembly ensured the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill is the same way the Copyright Bill will be passed”.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Industries, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, stressed that the Copyright Act “is key to the economic transformation of Nigeria”.
Stakeholders from across the copyright industries, including the music, movie, publishing and broadcast sectors, attended the public hearing, called for hatmonisation of both the private member’s bill and the Executive Bill in consideration and made inputs towards improvements in the provisions of the Bills in line with their interests.
The Commission, in its Memorandum on the Copyright Bills 2021, among others, indicated that the proposed amendments were aimed at giving effect to the copyright reform project initiated by the Commission in 2012 in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, with a view to tackling the increasing challenge of copyright administration in the digital environment. It identified the objectives of the reform as including:
- To strengthen the copyright regime in Nigeria to enhance the competitiveness of its creative industries in a digital and knowledgebased global economy; to effectively protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts while also providing appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, encourage cultural interchange and advance public welfare; to facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations arising from relevant international copyright treaties; and to enhance the capacity of the Commission for effective administration and enforcement of the provisions of the Copyright Act.
The NCC memorandum provided background information on the Executive Copyright Bill, compared the provisions in that Bill with those of the Private Member’s Bill and made additional proposals for further modification of the Executive Bill based on current concerns. Theew key provisions of the Executive Bill highlighted included the following:
- Better Protection of authors’ works in the digital environment in line with the obligations under the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty;
- New rights of remuneration provided for performers in respect of audiovisual works where their performances are subjected to fixation and subsequent exploitation on other platforms;
- Notice and procedures to take down infringing contents in a digital network; process for deleting accounts of repeated offenders; blocking of infringing website; and liability for intermediaries in the online environment;
- Technology Protection Measures (TPMs) and Rights Management Information (RMI) with more elaborate provisions to safeguard anti-piracy measures;
- More detailed limitations and exceptions to support education and other public interest uses of works;
- New provisions on rights managements in respect of: Protection of rights management information in works against alteration by third parties; Registration of copyright works with the benefit of easing proof of facts relating to the work; Extended collective licensing for Collective Management Organisations (CMOs); Transfer/remuneration rights for audiovisual performers; Framework for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in respect of disputes arising from licensing transactions, royalty payments and other matters connected with third party exploitation of works of authors.
- Elaborate provisions regarding institutional arrangements, namely: Expansion of NCC Governing Board to include more policy institutions (Federal Ministries of Science and Technology, Information and Culture; and Trade and investment) as well as representatives of public interests/user groups; More enforcement powers for Copyright Inspectors (Powers to confiscate infringing materials and to seal premises); General Powers of the NCC to make regulations; Appointment, term of office, and removal of the Chairman or members of NCC Board and its Director-General; as well as Financial Provisions.
The cream of copyright stakeholders who attended and made representations for harmonisation and improvement of the contents of both Bills included delegates of the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mayo Ayilaran and Oritz Williki; National President of Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr. Pretty Okafor; and Chairman, Audio-Visual Rights Society (AVRS), Dr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun. Some celebrities in attendance included Jide Kosoko, Tuface Idibia, Yemi Solade, Francis Duru, Funky Mallam. Ejike Assiebu, Adeyemi Olubu, Sunny Macdon and Sola Sobowale.
Vincent A. Oyefeso