THE Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has flagged off a Monitoring and Documentation (M&D) Programme as part of its strategic, proactive antipiracy measures in the book industry.
The Commission kicked off the M&D programme in Ajegunle, Lagos State on 6th October 2022 during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between it and four stakeholders in the book sector, namely Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Booksellers Association Ajegunle Lagos State (BAALS), Integrity Book-Sellers Association of Nigeria, and Booksellers Association Yaba.
Director-General of NCC, Dr. John O. Asein who disclosed this indicated that the objective of the MoU was to streamline the book distribution channel and check the rising incidence of piracy in the book industry.
Dr. Asein stated that under the M & D programme, “the Commission will routinely monitor and document outlets where copyright works are either produced, reproduced, distributed, sold or warehoused. This initiative will ultimately be extended to other sectors that may benefit from it. The information generated would feed into a database that would help in planning, rights management and enforcement.”
The NCC Director-General expressed hope that the NPA and the three major booksellers associations represented at the event would subscribe to the new initiative.
In his words, “This for us is a natural outcome of the letter and spirit of the MoU that we are executing today. With the signing of this MoU and the commencement of the monitoring and documentation programme, it is our hope that everyone will subscribe to a higher level of vigilance and respect for copyright across all sectors of the creative industry standards.
He assured that the Commission, working with credible stakeholders, would continue to develop sector-specific solutions for each sector. “Today, we are addressing the distribution channels in the book sector, and I am pleased with the success we have achieved so far in this regard. Stakeholder associations must continue to work together to make this industry thrive for the benefit of all”, he stressed.
“As booksellers, importers, printers, publishers, our actions affect a very important industry that has wider repercussions on the lives of authors, the publishing sector, education and the nation’s economy. The level of copyright piracy, particularly in the book sector, is unacceptable! Our primary goal therefore is to bring it down to a single digit social and economic nuisance in Nigeria. Although many of us may not fully understand the wider ramifications of our actions, copyright piracy is not only about statistics. The trauma, pain and anguish that it inflicts on right owners are unimaginable. The real victims are human beings whose harvests are ravaged by locusts, in this case the pirates, leaving the creative sector desolate”, he remarked.
The Director-General disclosed that while the new Copyright Bill was awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Commission was already working on Regulations to bring sanity to the creative industries. “For the book industry, we will be engaging with stakeholders to find solutions to the root causes of piracy and the dysfunctionality that we have observed in the value chain,” he added.
On his part, the President of NPA, Mr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke applauded the NCC for the bold steps taken to get rid of piracy in the society. He said both the signing of the MoU and the commencement of the M&D programme initiated by the Commission were right steps in the right direction.
“With this policy and development both the publishers and the sellers can benefit collectively. Piracy will be a thing of the past. If publishers and sellers are working closely, this will close the gap for piracy to operate in the industry,” he said.
The NPA President observed that “book is life”. He urged investors in the creative industry to play by the rules of the sector by discouraging piracy activities, encouraging, protecting and guarding the intellectual properties of authors.
“This event is historic because it is no longer news that piracy is crippling the book industry and the economy. This is a step in the right direction. We hope that this will send the right signals to the culprits that it is no longer going to be business as usual for book pirates,” he stated.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Integrity Book Sellers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Chigbo welcomed the development. He urged the Commission not to relent in its efforts towards eradicating piracy out of the society. He appealed to the Commission to protect the interests of both the sellers and publishers in its policies.
Assistant Director, Public Affairs