By Deji Abdulwahab
Mr John Asein, the Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), says the Federal Government had commenced the process of reviewing the 1988 Copyright Act.
“The Federal Government has kick-started the process for the first major reform of the nation’s copyright system in over three decades.
“This followed the transmission of the Copyright (Repeal) Bill as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to the National Assembly for enactment into law,” Asein said in a statement issued in Abuja, on Tuesday.
Signed by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr Vincent Oyefeso, the statement quoted Asein as saying that the new bill aimed at overhauling the copyright system in Nigeria.
It also seeks to, among others, strengthen the enforcement mechanism for copyright violations through stiffer penalties and more effective procedures best suited to the digital environment, he added.
He recalled that the FEC had considered and approved the draft Bill at its meeting of June 13, 2018 (Ref. EC 2018), sequel to its presentation to the Council by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN.
“Some of the new issues addressed in the Bill include: the right of remuneration for some categories of copyright owners, special exceptions for blind, visually impaired and print-disabled persons.
“Others are; provision against circumvention of technological protection measures, rights management information, an elaborate enforcement mechanism for online infringement, and stiffer sanctions for criminal infringements of copyright.”
The director-general revealed that the Executive Bill on Copyright had provisions for addressing the country’s outstanding obligations under relevant international copyright treaties.
He noted that the cardinal objectives of the Bill were to: “protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts.
“They are also to provide appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works and facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations, arising from relevant international copyright treaties.
“And enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for effective regulation, administration and enforcement.”
Following the launch of a comprehensive reform of Nigeria’s copyright system in 2012, and based on clearly defined national aspirations, he observed that a first Draft Copyright Bill, in line with global standards, was released to the public in February 2015.
“Based on the comments from stakeholders and the public, the draft was extensively revised by a team of national experts before it was presented to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval.
“The new Bill is the product of years of extensive consultation, with local and international stakeholders, industry practitioners, right owner associations and experts in copyright.
“The Commission appeals to all stakeholders and partners to support the process and it is also hopeful that the Bill will receive favourable attention,” the DG said.
NAN recalled that the NCC was established under Section 34 of the Copyright Act (Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004). It was first inaugurated as the Nigerian Copyright Council on Aug. 19, 1989, which was in April 1996 elevated to a Commission and confirmed by the Copyright (Amendment) Decree 1999.
The Commission is the government agency responsible for all copyright matters in Nigeria, including the administration, regulation, enforcement and prosecution under the Copyright Act (NAN)