30th Anniversary Unites Copyright Community

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Vanessa Obioha

At the flag off ceremony of the 30th anniversary of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), warring parties sheath their swords as they collectively sought ways to fight their common enemy: piracy. Under a bubbling ambience, different members of collecting societies such as the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) gathered to felicitate with the body which was founded in 1989.

The Director General of the commission, John Asein in his remark said that he would carry every stakeholder along to ensure that the copyright battle is won. “Pirates cannot continue to threaten the industry. We would ensure that copyright laws are adequately implemented and the creative sector gets the benefit of years of struggle.”

Calling for new reforms in the country’s copyright law, Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele emphasized on the need for the commission to use the platform of the Senate to boost a robust creative community that will benefit intellectual property owners. He said the move is necessary to ensure that the copyright law in the country is strengthened and protected.

Lending his voice to the cause is the pioneer Chief Executive of the commission, former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Moses Ekpo.

In his address, Ekpo lauded the commission for its feats over the years, recalling his experience in the past when copyright and intellectual property were novel in the country. “Before the reforms, the copyright scene in Nigeria was confusing, if not chaotic. The legal framework was weak and enforcement was lethargic. So people got away with infringement of copyright.”

He added that the scenario impacted negatively on the nation’s international reputation as Nigeria was operating outside the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

“It is my expectation that nothing should hinder our avowed commitment to ensuring that Nigeria catches up with global best practices in the area of intellectual property protection as it is obtained in advanced polities.”

Despite the commission’s feats in the past, Ekpo is not impressed by the financial stance of the commission. According to him, the funding profile of NCC has dwindled. He therefore urged the federal government to adequately fund the commission while imploring state governments to provide accommodation and support for “the establishment of copyright offices in their states to help in developing creative industries and contribute to the economy of the nation.”

As part of its commitment to raise awareness on its duties, the commission also distributed its new publication aptly titled ‘What is Copyright?’ The publication written in simple and clear language, aided with pictorial illustrations is targeted at younger audience. The book succinctly highlights the basics of copyright for educational purposes. As noted by Asein, the book is to help children and young persons to understand how their creative talents can be used to earn money.

“With recent innovations in information and communication technologies, children and young persons are better equipped to create and become authors, hence copyright owners… The idea is to ensure that through this book, children from an early age will understand ‘elementary copyright’ and be inspired not only to create but also to show respect for the works of others and learn how the copyright system works.”

More activities to celebrate this significant year such as stakeholders partnership are lined up in order to take the creative industry to the next level.