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Clipping the wings of piracy, the SID Code option

By Prince Osuagwu
When world security and identity issues are discussed, Nigeria is not just getting a good record. From piracy to identity theft, porous cyber security among other vices, Nigeria keeps getting a poor rating, taking the shine off its standing as a giant black African nation with enviable population and astronomical ICT growth that keeps developed nations on their toes.

Just last week, Symantec, a world renowned security company released its latest internet security report with the revelation that Nigeria ranks 70 among countries of the world with poor cybersecurity.

Symantec’s report said that its latest internet security threat report highlighted trends in cybercrime from January 1, 2009 to Dececember 31, 2009.
According to the Regional Director for Africa at Symantec, Gordon Love,“attacks have evolved from simple scams to highly sophisticated espionage campaigns targeting some of the world’s largest corporations and government entities.

The scale of these attacks and the fact that they originate from across the world, make it a truly international problem requiring the cooperation of both the private sector and world governments.”

Love said that Nigeria ranked number 43 in EMEA and 70 in the world in 2009 for malicious activity. This is even As he posited that given the potential for monetary gain from compromised corporate intellectual property (IP), cybercriminals also have turned their attention toward enterprises. The report found that attackers are leveraging the abundance of personal information openly available on social networking sites to synthesise socially engineered attacks on key individuals within targeted companies.

As if that was not enough, the Business Software Alliance, BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, also released last week, another worrisome report pitching software piracy rate in Nigeria at 83%.

The report tabulated that the Nigerian economy lost US$156 million to software piracy in 2009, as against  $132 million in in 2008. It also estimated that since the study was first published in 2005, the commercial value of software stolen over the past four years could be in the region of $584 million.

After examining the ravages the issue of piracy may likely rake on the whole world, President and CEO of the Business Software Alliance, Mr Robert Holleyman sternly warned that “disregard for intellectual property rights places an onerous drag on the global economy.

But there is a robust system of international laws designed to stop intellectual property crime, but it is up to individual governments to implement and enforce them.”

Perhaps, this warning shook the pillars of Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC,  and probably piqued it’s Director General Dr Adebambo Adewopo into more actions on how to make sure that this ugly menace does not cut through all sectors of the economy.

However, before now, the commission had moved to tackle the trend through implementation of the Optical Discs Plants Regulations.

In 2007, the Commission issued the Copyright (Optical Discs Plants) Regulations as part of the measure to control piracy from the production point. The decision, according to the commission, was followed by close observation and monitoring of the piracy situation in Nigeria, which led to the conclusion that Nigeria was rapidly acquiring capacity for domestic reproduction of copyright works in optical media and due to initial absence of regulatory framework, the production facilities were becoming piracy havens.

The introduction of a regulation for optical disc manufacturing plants facilitated the identification of genuine plants for periodic inspection to ensure that illegal reproduction of work is not carried out. It also enabled the Commission to enforce the statutory duty requiring these plants to keep records of their productions.

Consequently, in June 2009, the Commission prescribed the mandatory adoption by all registered optical discs plants and mastering facilities, of the Source Identification (SID) Code, leveraging on the regulation to prescribe the use of Manufacturing Codes or any other anti_piracy device on every optical disc produced in Nigeria.

Prior to prescribing the use of the SID Code, the Commission said it obtained from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) a block of SID Codes which were allocated to all replicating Plants and Mastering facilities registered by the Commission.
This followed an execution of an agreement between the IFPI and the Commission enabling the Commission to administer the SID code in the territory of Nigeria on behalf of IFPI.

Meanwhile, in a press conference held in Lagos last week, the commission announced that from the 1st June, 2010, all optical discs produced and/or replicated in Nigeria are expected to have inscribed on them, an appropriate SID code.

The implication of this is that any optical disc which does not have the SID code would henceforth be presumed to be pirated and liable to confiscation, while persons dealing with such products would be apprehended and prosecuted.

This may actually not be the end to piracy in Nigeria, but the commission expressed confidence that it would deal a heavy blow to the increase of Optical Disc piracy which affects all Intellectual Property owners on aggregate analysis.

The SID Code was developed by the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), an international organization representing the recording industry worldwide, to assist in the prevention of optical disc piracy. Since its introduction by IFPI in 1994, the SID Code has proved a very useful tool in terms of indicating the source of optical discs mastering and replication.

For the optical discs plants, it is both a quality control tool as well as a marketing tool. It provides the plants with the means to identify all discs mastered and/or replicated in its plant; and the individual Laser Beam Recorder (“LBR”) signal processor stamper or disc. For the Commission, it is expected to provide a tool for tracking of products emanating from registered plants and distinguish them from pirated ones.

The dangers of astronomical growth of optical disc piracy is that it is possible for an organization based in one country to place orders for the replication of pirate discs in another country and distribute them in several other countries. This affects not just music and films which are predominantly born on optical discs, but also affects books, and computer software which have now been put on optical discs for commercial distribution.

Collective management reforms settled?
In a similar scenario, the Commission also said it has looked into artiste royalties and the controversy surrounding its collection and decided that it was another area sanity must be enthroned.

According to Adewopo, “the Commission has been in the process of reforming collective management of copyright in the Nigerian music industry since year 2007. The reform process became necessary as a result of the lingering crisis in the industry for more than a decade which hampered the realization of the benefits that should accrue to right owners.  As a preliminary step to the reform process, the Commission with the prior consent of the Attorney General of the Federation, issued the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007. The new Regulations sought to create a new philosophy of collective management and institute a more credible approval process”.

In line with the new regulations, the Commission said it invited applications from interested organizations at the instance of stakeholders in the industry, including, the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) the Commission extended the deadline for submission of applications to December 31 2009.

Announcing a new development to the reforms, Adewopo announced that after careful scrutiny of the three applications it received as at 31st December, 2009, it approved the application and subsequently licensed a company named Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte) giving it sole right to manage the collection of artiste copyright royalties.

According to him, “the Commission set up a committee to consider the applications received. The Committee held several sittings, and also carried out an onsite inspection of the offices of all the three applicants. On completion of its assignment, the Committee presented its report to the Management of the Commission with findings showing that of the three applications under consideration, the application of Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte) demonstrated the highest level of compliance to the statutory and regulatory approval conditions.

Furthermore, the Committee also noted that the establishment of COSON followed a broad_based consultative process which allowed for the participation of the majority of stakeholders in the music industry and therefore provided a wider and more accommodating platform to all stakeholders, which will make for a stronger and more cohesive collective management.  Management therefore, unanimously approved the recommendations of the Committee that the application of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd./Gte.), COSON, to operate as a collecting society to administer musical works and sound recordings be approved”.


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