Copyright Commission to Promote Ease of Doing Business, DG Asein Assures

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THE Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is poised to promote the ease of doing business in the creative sector of the national economy.

Director-General of NCC, Mr. John Asein, who made this declaration in his office in Abuja today (22nd January 2019), said the Commission is being repositioned to align the performance of its statutory mandate with the Federal Government’s policy direction in the Economic Recovery and Governance  Project (ERGP).

Mr. Asein, who was the immediate past Executive Director of Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), a collective management organisation in the publishing genre, spoke while receiving stakeholders from the book industry led by Chairman of Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT) and President of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, who paid him a courtesy visit.

Noting that copyright piracy was a threat to the ease of doing business, the Director-General stressed that the Commission would pursue its zero tolerance policy across all copyright sectors against piracy nationwide.

He also indicated that the Commission would collaborate with the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) to facilitate early adoption and implementation of the National Book Policy.

The Director-General expressed worry that piracy injures the creative industries from inside and outside the country, and added that safe corridors would be created for authors and publishers to grow their business as major contributors to the nation’s economy.

He assured the delegation that problems associated with the marketing and distribution particularly in the book industry would be examined and addressed, adding that the copyright system must be solution-driven and should strive to proffer solutions to the peculiar needs of every section of the creative industry.

“The Commission will build a cross-border network that will enable it trace the movement of books within and outside Nigeria. We must do everything to grow the industry”, he stated.

The Director-General hinted that the Commission would soon implement the provisions of the Copyright Act that make it mandatory for publishers to keep registers of works, noting that it is a criminal offence for producers of copyright works not to keep such a register. He added that the modalities for the implementation would be worked out with stakeholders.

Mr. Asein urged stakeholders in the book industry to consider exploring e-platforms for the sale of books, adding that the Commission would complement this by focusing on checking piracy on those platforms.

“The Commission will also be working with the blind community and we hope the book industry will support us in the implementation of the recently ratified Marrakesh Treaty to make books more accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled,” the Director-General stated.

Chairman of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust and President of NPA and Rasmed Publications Limited, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, was accompanied on the visit by the President of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Malam Denja Abdullahi; Executive Secretary, NBFT, Mr. Abiodun Omotunbi; NPA Vice President (East), Mr. Jesse Odu; NPA Executive Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Abimbola; NPA Executive Council Member, Mr. Austin Onwubiko; Legal Adviser of Alliance Publishing House, Enugu, Ofoma Amaka, Esq.; NPA External Auditor, Mr. Kazeem Rasaq; and a Book Reviewer and Founder of Fahinta Literary Discourse, Miss Salamatu Sule.

Having congratulated the Director-General and acknowledged his competence, Mr. Adedapo called on the Commission to come up with a functional system for regulation of booksellers as another strategy to curb the exploits of pirates.

The NPA president expressed appreciation to Present Muhammadu Buhari for his wisdom in appointing a competent hand who understands the challenges of the copyright industries.

In his remarks, the President of ANA, Malam Abdullahi stated that the DG, having worked creditably as one of the stakeholders, should deploy his rich experience to actively drive the development of the creative industries. “We request for more attention on protecting the book industry,” he stated.

National Vice President NPA (East), Mr. Odu called for reorientation of NCC staff to enable them deliver more on the Commission’s mandate in the interest of the industry.

Lamenting that the book industry and stakeholders were bleeding more from cross-border copyright piracy, he urged the Federal Government to further empower the Commission to effectively check the menace.

The Executive Secretary of NPA, Mr. Abimbola, on his part, underscored the need to include copyright education in the curricula of educational institutions. He added that there were ongoing consultations with NERDC in that direction.

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