By Benjamin Njoku
The Nigerian film industry otherwise known as Nollywood may soon be locked in a legal battle with the Nigerian Copyright Commission,NCC, in the event of NCC tampering with the position of Nollywood on the proposed review of the country’s copyright law, a source has revealed.
HVP gathered that NCC organized a town hall meeting early last year, where the stakeholders in the nation’s film industry stated their position on the proposed amendment of the copyright law.
Unfortunately, since organizing that meeting, our source alleged that NCC has not bothered to carry the industry along, causing suspension and raising of eyebrows among the operators.
Meanwhile, in a paper titled, “Nigeria’s Film Industry Copyright Manifesto” which was made available to HVP and signed on behalf of the industry by four Guilds heads in Nollywood, including Mr Zik Zulu Okafor, President, Association of Movie Practitioners,AMP, Mr Stephen Osezua, President, Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria,ITPAN, Comrade Alex Eyengho, President, Association of Nollywood Core Producers,ANCOP, and Comrade Victor Asaolu, President,Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners,ANTP, the stakeholders restated their position on the review of the nation’s copyright law.
In the paper which was prepared by the industry’s lawyer, Barr. G.O Sodipo, the stakeholders want the National Assembly to amend the Nigerian constitution by introducing a clause similar to section 40 of the Kenyan Constitution which states that “ The State shall support, promote and protect the intellectual property rights of the people of Kenya” and section 260 of the Kenyan Constitution which also defines property to include right vested or contingent to, or interests in or arising from intellectual property.
“We are demanding for more robust provisions targeted at curbing online pirating of films in line with the treaties we have signed. There is evidence that the film industry suffers huge losses, resulting from illegal streaming of films.”
“Given the international nature of copyright, first publication of a film in a treaty country must be a qualifying condition for copyright protection under section 5 of the Act. At the moment, this is not so.”
Furthermore, the stakeholders want a specific broadcast right, pointing out that “Section 6(1) (c) of the copyright Act does not specifically mention “the broadcast of a film” as one of the rights of a copyright holder.” They said, “The film industry may benefit if given a separate right to control the making available to the public of their works in such a away that members of the public may access these works from a place and at time, individually chosen by them”
They also want the criminal penalties including the fines and terms of imprisonment to be increased and new offenses such as attempt, aidding and abetting of copyright should be criminalized.
“We are equally demanding for the criminalizing of “the making, selling, using or stocking devices that circumvent anti-copying technology,”the industry stated.