By Innocent Anaba
Director-General, Copy Rights Commission, CRC, Mr. John Asein, yesterday, warned that Nigeria was losing money to piracy, noting that all stakeholders must join hands to fight the scourge, so that writers, creators and other producers can begin to reap the fruit of their labour.
He spoke at the Intellectual Property Symposium: The Bane of Counterfeit Pharmaceutical and Piracy organised in Lagos by the United States Embassy and the American Business Council, ABC.
On how much the country was losing to piracy and counterfeit products, Asein said: “If you put it in monetary terms, you are being unfair to those who are losing so much. If you know how many people who have died under the weight of piracy, if you know how many people who have taken loans and never recovered because of piracy, you will know it is more than just the monetary terms.
“I know that what Nigeria is losing is in billions but as I said, we cannot begin to quantify the enormous loses and do you know that of recent, a renowned filmmaker was at the point of death and he needed to sell his films, in fact he offered his films to be sold but because of this piracy menace and the environment, no one dare touch it and he died three days to his appointment for surgery.
“So for me, it is heart bleeding when you see a man like that go under and he only would have helped people to smile and enjoy themselves by way of entertainment but when it came to his time to have his recompense, he never got it.”
We know a lot of publishers that are just barely surviving, they are struggling because piracy has eaten deep into their work, and you wouldn’t know how many books are now on their way to schools, book stores while the genuine publishers are still struggling to even have 10 percent of what the pirates are turning out in the market.”
In her opening address, Charge d’Affairs, US Embassy in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, said: “IPR protection affects commerce throughout economies. It provides incentives to invest and create, protect innovators from unauthorized copying, creates a platform for financial investments in innovation, and supports startup liquidity and growth through merges, acquisition and IPOs. It makes licensing-based technology business models possible and enables and efficient market for technology transfer and trading in technology and ideas.”
On his part, former Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Prof Adebambo Adewopo, SAN, noted that “IP has never been more economically and politically important than it is today, particularly in the multidimensional drive towards development. More than before, the global IP system has assumed increasing complexity which in itself calls for a better understanding of the dynamic interaction between IP systems and sustainable development goals.
“It is now not too far-fetched among policymakers and development experts that a considerable proportion of these lofty goals that the global community has set for itself directly impacts the creativity and innovation of the people geared towards the flourishing of the society, for example, towards viable industries, improved productivity and standard of living, eradicating poverty, among other goals.”