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Author Name: Emmanuel Kwache
Number of articles: 26
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Nigeria Copyright Commission: virile battle against pirates
Author: Emmanuel Kwache | February 22, 2008

A review of the remarkable achievements of the Nigerian Copyright Commission in the last two years by Justin Akpori – Esade in the Thursday, January 17, 2008 edition of Guardian Newspaper page 80 in worth commending. The Nigerian Copyright Commission according to him is a Government Parastatal which is saddled with the responsibility of chasing pirates off the works of artistes and other intellectual property owners is on its way up. The Director – General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, Mr. Adebambo Adeqopo listed the achievement of the commission under the strategic Action Against piracy, STRAP initiative. Established in August 1989, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) currently in transition to Nigerian Intellectual Property Commission (NIPCOM) has through the prosecution of its STRAP campaign enhanced the actualization of its statutory mandate under the Nigerian Copyright Act (1988) as amended in the areas of enforcement, administration of rights and public awareness. The commission’s regulatory and enforcement functions cover the creative genres of literary works, musical works, artistic works sound – recording, broadcasts, performances and expression of folklore. According to Adebambo Adewopo, achievement s under STRAP include: proactive enforcement which, involved vigorous anti-piracy raids across the country in collaboration with the police and genuine stakeholders. A total of 19,312,000 seizure of suspected pirated works worth N3.03 billion were made while about 325 affects were during 85 anti-piracy raids. Over N2 billion worth of impounded pirated products have been destroyed by public burning the Arts page of that feature reported. Intensive prosecution has been going on insistently. Over 60 different cases of copyright violation are currently being prosecuted in Federal High Courts Nationwide. A total of four convictions were secured out of which two were against book piracy while the other two were on broadcast piracy. Provision of free legal counseling to stakeholders and all interested persons on the varied and sometimes comlex subject of intellectual property. Copyright litigation and mediation programme was initiated as a component of STRAP. It also serves as an avenue of encouraging out-of court settlement to avoid being caught up in the usually long – winded process of administration of Justice, while still ensuring the protection of the interest of aggrieved while still ensuring the protection of the interests of aggrieved right owners. As a result, foru copyright cases were settled out of court on the platform of CLAMP. Issuance and implementation of copyright (Optical Discs Plants) regulation 2006: Introduction of Regulation of Replicating Plants to forestall continuous illegal production and distribution of copyright products, Via the initiation of the copyright (Optical Discs Plants), Regulation 2006 published in the Federal Government Official Gazette No. 63 Vol. 93 of 20th December 2007. The Director – General, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo of the Nigerian Copyright Commission listed some of the commission’s achievements in the immediate past year as collaboration with other Government agencies, inspection of copyright outlets smong others as some of the efforts the commission out into place to ensure a virile collection administration sector. He explained “to strengthen its operations, the Commission has initiated collaboration with other Government agencies like the Nigerian police Force, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON) BAFDAC and the Nigerian Customs Service. To this end, two infringing replication plants – Magnet Integrated Ventures Company, Ajah and Akina Music International Company Limited Ikeja, were raided and sealed up for infringement of the copyright ACT. A total of 386 plants/outlets dealing in copyright protected works were inspected in course of the year. Revitalization of Copyright Notification Scheme, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, noted was set in motion to facilitate the establishment of data bank of authors and their works. The scheme is a process where by an author of a copyright work or right owner notifies the commission that he is the creator of a work or the copyright owner. Under this scheme, a total of 445 copyright works were received out of which 249 certificates have been issued. And to create widespread public aware says justice Akpori – Esade, the Reviewer of the immediate past achievements added, the commission embarked on integrated community campaign under STRAP to step up sensitization of Nigerians on copyright issues. There was also the commissioning of the first copyright library at the commission’s Headquarters in Abuja in addition to is main library in Lagos . The NCC Boss also unveiled their plant to resuscitate Hologram and video Rental Schemes :The commission under STRAP is repacking its Hologram and video schemes for effectiveness through construction engagement pf stakeholders. The Commission has mapped out an action plan for reintroduction of strengthened stamps procured and affixed by producers as anti – piracy security device on music and film products at production level. In the same vein the Director – General is optimistic that the renewed Video Rental Scheme would check copyright infringement via mandatory accreditation of video rental outlets, which may only rent the prescribed rental copies of creative works, reproductions of which is illegal. Major training programmes on enforcement operations were held at NDLEA Training Academy in Jos, Plateau State and in collaboration with International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) in Lagos . The Commission as at today, at this moment you are reading this piece partners the World Intellectual Property Organization, (WIPO) and allied International Development Bodies in the are of manpower Development. For enhanced operations and efficiency, the organogram of the Commission has been restructured, while Zonal operations have been strengthened for effective enforcement and public enlightenment interventions. Some operational vehicles and communication facilities have been acquired. The Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo expressed satisfaction that the Commission research efforts received unprecedented boost when the Ford Foundation, an International Donor Agency, in demonstration of support for the Commission’s STRAP, gave ti grant for sponsorship of a study on the copyright situation in Nigeria . The Committees to assist in actualizing the research have been inaugurated, the Pilot test has been concluded while the last – stage of the fieldwork has commenced. The Commission is also carrying out a research on the area of Intellectual Property Teaching in Nigeria . In March 2006 to be specific, as requested by the Embassy of the United States of America, the Commission Submitted a proposal on the Documentation of Nigerian Indigenous Folklore Resources: Nasarawa State: Pilot Study. Response from the Embassy indicates that the proposal has received preliminary approval and has been forwarded to their Washington Office for final approval. He made clarification on the proposed transition of the NCC to NIPCOM. The Federal Government of Nigeria in the preceding regime approved the establishment of the Nigerian Intellectual Property Commission (NIPCOM) under the Federal Ministry of justice. Government also; directed The integration of the Trademark and Patent Registry in Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry into the NCC to form the new NIPCOM. An Executive Bill for enactment and promulgation of an enabling law for establishment of NIPCOM is presently before the National Assembly. Perhaps one of the Major achievements of the Government body particularly last year was the reported United States delisting of Nigeria from special 301 lists. The Government of United States has in recognition of Nigeria’s Spirited efforts at checking the incidence of copyright and Intellectual Property violations removed the country from the special 301 lists of countries blacklisted for the rising Incidence of Intellectual Property thefts referred to as piracy and counterfeiting. Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria , Mr. John Campbell disclosed this in a commendation letter dated June 6, 2007 addressed to NCC Boss on Nigeria ’s delisting. Sperial 301 is a Federal law that defines the US measures against countries Identified as denying effective protection for Intellectual property. The current President Commended the NCC for its role in facilitating the delisting of Nigeria for the first time for special 301 the Attorney – General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoiakaa; 22, 2007, Stated that Government was aware that until now, the country had always been on the U.S. Special 301, adding that the President has deemed the Commission as deserving of commendation in creating an enabling environment for the country’s unprecedented delisting through enhanced copyright and Intellectual Property Protection as evident in the Introduction and execution of the STRAP. This is besides; Commendations by some other relevant stakeholders in the Copyright Community like the International Federation of phonographic Industries (IFPI), Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) and Music label owners and Recording Industries Association of Nigerian (MORAN) among it is glaring that in the last two years, the Commission has recorded remarkable achievements in the Area of enforcement, active The efforts had led to Increased level of copyright awareness, reduction in activities of Pirates, Prosecution of more copyright offenders in Federal High Courts across the country, improvement in the earnings of right owners; confiscation and burning of large volumes of infringing copyright in the global fight owners favourable perception against piracy, conviction of pirates and increasing willingness to comply with the revisions of the copyright law by users of works protected by copyright. All of these have enabled the Commission of improve on its service delivery and operational efficiency Nationwide. This is saying Kudos to the Management of Nigerian Copyright Commission under the leadership of Mr. Adebambo Adewopo. However, a lot of work still needs to be done in the area of enforcement. For instance, the Commission should intensity its raid on Street sellers of suspected pirated works, a development some critics could say make the business a risky are. The situation where Street Sellers besiege motorists at traffic hold ups, displaying Music CDs and VCDs as well as movies suspected to be involved in the nefarious business; more energy should be channeled blocking other sales outlets Street Sellers. The inability to successfully checkmate activities of traders at Alaba International Market is one minus for the Commission last year. However, last Month at a stakeholders forum, Practitioners from all the sections of the Industry gave it a go – ahead to raid the Market. It is therefore hoped that the encouragement form stakeholders will recognize the commission’s efforts and carry on the battle with more zeal and vigour.

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