By Prince Osuagwu
The world celebrated the 10th anniversary of Intellectual Property Day (IP Day), Monday and Nigeria was part of the annual ritual. Ordinarily, it is a time to take stock and ruminate on the ravages of piracy and effects of those who steal what others spent sleepless nights to initiate.
The Nigerian intellectual property owners, have been groaning under the weight ofÂ high rate of copyright piracy, poor remuneration and crude collective management of rights.
Meanwhile, despite the efforts of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, enforcement of existing legislation remains a major problem. But if the message of the Attorney General of the Federation, Alhaji Mustapha Bello Adoke (SAN) at the occasion, is anything to go by, property owners in Nigeria may be heading for the Uhuru.
Adoke promised an advancement in the use of innovation and creativity as tools for wealth creation, adding that creative people must not only be acknowledged but must be remunerated.
He also promised to use his office to give support to various initiatives of NCC aimed at ensuring that the copyright system contributes to the overall upliftment of the economy.
According to him, the Government is determined to find a lasting solution to the poor regime of collective management of rights in Nigeria and put in place fair and equitable reward mechanism in line with global best practices.
â€œThe lingering problem of piracy is already being addressed and my office will continue to support the various initiatives of the Nigerian Copyright Commission aimed at ensuring that the copyright system does not only contribute maximally to the overall development agenda of this administration but also, and more importantly, that right owners and creators are treated in a manner that will sustain their continued involvement in the business of innovation and creativityâ€.
However, he was quick to spot where the shoe pinches: â€œInnovation provides solutions to identified problems but also creates new problems. While it is true that the law may never be able to catch up with or preempt all the hazards of technology, experience has shown that the solution is in constant review of the law to meet emerging challenges.
The last amendment to the Copyright Act was in 1999 and the law as it is today is in need of an overhaul. We therefore welcome the recent initiatives of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary introducing a Bill for the amendment of the Copyright Act, to meet the challenges of the digital environment.
I am of the view that a more comprehensive reform would better serve this aim. There is also need to review the law to strengthen the administration and enforcement of copyright.
â€œAs a prominent member of WIPO, Nigeria will continue to give support to the development programmes of the organization particularly as they affect the copyright industries. Steps are already being taken towards Nigeriaâ€™s ratification of the relevant international instruments, particularly the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (the so called Internet Treaties) both of which Nigeria had signedâ€.
The Attorney General admitted that the reason why the remuneration and support was so important, was judging from the contributions of the film, music and literary industries to the growth of the aggregate Nigerian economy.
He said, â€œon the occasion of this yearâ€™s celebration, I must single out the film, music, broadcast and literary industries for special mention. These are areas where the innovative spirit of the Nigerian has blossomed impressively.
Nollywood has defied all odds and risen from near irrelevance, about two decades ago to give Nigeria a slot in the top three film producing countries in the world.
That is a clear demonstration of innovation and how the creative industries can bring multiple streams of income to a nation. Nigerian music has begun to dominate the national charts and fill the air waves. It is my hope that, like Nollywood, the music industry will also conquer the world and gain international acclaim in the same way that our literary prowess has been recognized with a Nigerian winning the Nobel Prize in Literatureâ€.