Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has sounded it loud and clear to vendors and producers of pirated and counterfeit products that Nigeria is not a dumping site for such products.
And as such, he hinted of a strong legislation that would provide comprehensive protection of rights and stringent penalties for violators as “Nigeria can no longer be treated as a dumping ground for counterfeit and pirated products”.
The Vice President disclose this in Lagos on Monday in a keynote address at the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) lecture delivered on his behalf by the Director General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. Afam Ezekude.
“It is obvious that technology will continue to play an important role in the production and dissemination of of creative work. As a country whose creative industry is gaining global prominence, therefore waxing stronger in its economic potentials, it behooves us as a nation, to begin to articulate strategies that will transform the fortunes of the creative industries to impact more positively in our national development efforts.
“From a general stand point, the most important step is to ensure the presence of a strong legislation, which provides comprehensive protection of rights, as well as stringent penalties for violation. For instance, the law must provide sanctions that are directly proportional to the unlawful profit made by the infringer, or to the loss in tax revenue to government,” he said.
According to him now is the time to review the copyright Act if the noose must be tightened against violators of the law saying, “a cursory look at the present copyright Act will show that the legislation was made at a time when creative economy was largely driven by analogue technology. With the advent digital technology, the application of the law becomes difficult. Consequently, a review of that framework is at this point critical to the survival of the copyright system in Nigeria.”
He acknowledged that attempts had been made in the past, and are still been made by the NCC, for the passage of amendments to the Copyright Act and said that the proposed amendment has become necessary given the need for the nation to diversify its economy.
The vice president who described himself as an author who has also fallen victim of the criminal acts of pirates also touched on the issue of enforcement of the law as it concerns copyright.
“Beyond legislative provision, there is need to ensure that the laws are effectively enforced. The current situation where our streets are littered with pirated and counterfeit products must be arrested,” he said.
Guest Speaker, Prof. Bankole Sodipo, took the expressed thoughts of the Vice President further by calling for urgent action to be taken to ensure the passage by the National Assembly of a new draft of the Nigerian Copyright Act which deals with issues arising from developments in the digital age.
Highlights of the lecture may was the decoration of Nigeria’s former Attorney-General, Prince Bola Ajibola with the Copyright Grand Medal.
The 81-year-old Prince Ajibola thanked COSON for what he described as one of the happiest days of his life. He said that he was particularly touched that he is alive to receive the honour and that it is not being presented posthumously. He singled out COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, whom he described as a man of incredible character, describing the confrontation he had with a young Okoroji 27 years ago, when as PMAN President, he organised a major demonstration that took over the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos and made Prince Ajibola who was then Attorney-General of the Federation promise the promulgation of the present copyright law within a month, a promise which he kept and a promise for which he was being honoured 27 years after.
The packed Banquet Hall of Lagos Sheraton Hotel also witnessed great entertainment, especially the enticing collabo between Azeezat Allen and the masked singer, Lagbaja, jointly performing Azeezat’s song, ‘Hold On’. There was also a jaw dropping performance by a group of young boys and girls called Explicit that came from Ibadan.