Industry stakeholders recently converged to brainstorm on ways of protecting intellectual property. Yinka Olatunbosun reports
All creative industry stakeholders, members of the legal community and the academia gathered last Tuesday in Lagos at the lecture presented by the former director general of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Professor Adebambo Adewopo where the crucial topic of intellectual property was brought to the fore.
The lecture titled, “According to Intellectual Property: A Pro-development Vision of the Law and the Nigerian Intellectual Property Law and Policy Reform in the Knowledge Era”, provided insight into how artistes can protect their intellectual property rights.
Intellectual Property (IP) has become an important area of interest to artistes in recent times, where piracy and other fraudulent practices have resulted into loss of financial returns for writers, musicians, artists and other players in the creative sector.
The distinguished Professor of Intellectual Property spoke on the need for IP Law reform that will evolve in the context of socio-economic development and relevance.
“IP captures wide ranging subjects of human creations in diverse fields or endeavours over which rights of property have been created whether it is Chimamanda’s books or Wole Soyinka’s poem, Jewel by Lisa’s designer label.
“The scope of creative and innovative enterprise has expanded inexorably and in a pace and pattern that has continued to test the significance of IP jurisprudence in contemporary affairs.”
Commenting on how the IP law affects Nollywood, Professor Adewopo pointed out the link between the law and economic growth in the industry which he described as arguably the largest sub-saharan creative economy.
“ Nollywood , Nigeria ’s film industry, has recently caught the attention of scholars and policy makers and in the description of a commentator is ‘arguably Africa ’s first mass pop culture phenomenon, enjoying widespread popularity and cultural influence across the continent.
“A significant part of the profitable investment in the future of the entertainment industry depends largely on an enforceable copyright and an effective IP management of the large company of rights both in the underlying works and the audio-visual products of the industry.
“The soft-ware, publishing, broadcast media, both television and radio and other media related activities which are subjects of copyright protection are dynamic sectors in the knowledge-based trade from which Nigeria can generate revenue, employment and investment.”
Professor Adewopo further explained that traditional or indigenous knowledge which has been made vulnerable to exploitation in the absence of international protection and how the Copyright Act has introduced the neighboring rights regime to protect live performances and expressions of folklore which is an important subject of traditional knowledge.
While remarking that the digital technology has made copyright works like songs, videos, pictures and more accessible, malleable and transferable, the speaker noted that digital copyright abuses have “cost the global entertainment and media industry huge resources in trillions of dollars”’ and that the existing framework of rights under the copyright act does not fit into the digital and online environment.
He also observed that the effort of NCC in ridding the industry of piracy at Alaba, Onitsha and other parts of the country has invariably giving way to the new digital market online where indiscriminate downloads of songs, videos, pictures and other creative works now thrive. This development, he said,”requires a sound copyright law and a well focused enforcement strategy to reflect the current dynamics that rely on copyright system.”
In a chat with pressmen at the lecture, veteran actor of the Village Headmaster fame, Justice Esiri spoke on his view of the lecture.
“It was a very incisive lecture. As we are getting to understand the IP law, we can see that in Nigeria , we have not actually imbibed the intellectual property law. That is why so many things are happening in our country. How can somebody come and tell you that, ‘oh you are a very pretty lady or you are a very handsome man, come and be an actor and you go in there without asking for your rights? ‘
“The industry lacks in that area. We have heard today that intellectual property law has to do with economic. It creates wealth. If you create wealth, you should enjoy your wealth. I think something should be done about it especially in Nollywood. If someone from Nollywood becomes the President of this country, it definitely will come to pass.”
Some Nollywood actors have allegedly been victims of sexual exploitation in the hands of movie directors and producers in their desperate attempt to get roles in films and music videos. The scope of intellectual property law should cover this area and other creative works in other for stakeholders to reach their economic heights through a law that enforces their rights.
Some artistes who have suffered intellectual property theft such as 2shortz who have taken legal action against the defaulting multi-national companies in local courts for unauthorized use of their songs as ring tones have been confronted with the challenges of complex justice system.
An enabling law, such as proffered by Professor Adewopo will bring profitability to the creative industry where artistes will migrate from merely being popular faces without money to being successful wealth creators.