James Emejo in Abuja
Worried by the absence of effective and efficient intellectual property (IP) laws and the attendant economic consequences, a group of professionals including legal advocates have commenced a conversation for an appropriate framework to shield artistes from copyright infringement.
According to the African Policy Conversation, a group of young intellectual professionals from various fields of endeavor, the country currently does not have value intellectual property rights even though it remains critical for economic diversification.
Speaking at the African Policy Conversation on Intellectual Property, a partner at the Firma Advisory, Chinenye Uwanaka, who is one of the dialogue conveners, further expressed concerns that the government doesn’t see value in creativity and innovation by young Nigerian entrepreneurs.
She said: “However, now we have our fashion, our music, we have our movies being celebrated all over the world and that is what is actually bringing money into the economy.
“That is our biggest export right now but we don’t have the relevant policy to back that up and harness those sectors.”
She said the intervention by the group was a conscious effort to brainstorm on a legal framework for the IP policy in the country.
“We are going to work hand in hand with government to develop this policy and we are going to try and do things differently because people had tried and failed in the past but this time around, we are committed as a group,” she told THISDAY.
Uwanaka, added that a draft document would be produced at the end of the engagement and presented to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Richard Adebayo, on expectations for the creative industry in particular.
She also hinted that a bill on IP would be sponsored at the National Assembly for passage into law.
She said the creative industry, like the technology sector remains a multi-billion-dollar industry which should not be ignored by government but should come up with appropriate legislation to support its growth.
She said: “Even the FIRS had to come up with a framework for taxing intellectual property, that’s the way we can get revenue but obviously we are not saying go and tax them until the businesses fail.
“We are saying how do we incentivise these businesses to grow to employ more people, bring in foreign direct investment, to expand our economy- these are the ways we can diversify the economy by tapping into all these sectors and investing in them.”