Nigerian Copyright Commission moves to fight piracy

The Nigerian Copyright Commission says it is set to introduce part of its intervention plans to schools in its attempt to checkmate the supply chain of pirated copies of books.

The Director-General of the commission, Mr John Asein, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the Global Book Alliance on Friday in Lagos.

The event was part of activities lined up for the week-long 2019 Nigeria International Book Fair at the University of Lagos, which opened on Monday, May 6.

The theme of the workshop is: “Enabling African publishers to provide Quality Books in African Languages through the African Publishing Collaborative Initiative’’.

According to Asein, the menace of piracy, especially in the book industry is worrisome, adding that such intellectual theft must be matched with decisive measures.

“What we are trying to do now is to begin to introduce some of our intervention plans to places like schools to cut down the supply chain of pirated works.

“We are also working in the schools whereby henceforth, the school proprietors, Head of schools, Principals, by whatever name called, will be held responsible if pirated works are distributed in their schools.

“This is because we have found out that people have changed the models. They are no longer using book stores, they now bring the books directly to the schools.

“And in between the publishers and the schools, there are the sales representatives who move these books and sometimes could carry pirated books along with them.

“So unsuspecting schools may end up buying pirated books which they go ahead to distribute to innocent children.

“I am going to hold heads of such schools responsible if we find such things going on, that is one of our intervention plans,’’ he said.

Asein stated that books were the major things coming in through the ports, unlike music and audio visual materials that are mainly online.

He explained that books still had to come in physically, saying that the commission was giving those that would want to repent the opportunity  to begin to think of new businesses.

Asein stated the Nigerian Copyright Commission would no longer allow things to be business as usual.

“I think the first thing is for us to do less talk and work the talk and that means, every stakeholder that is talking about it must have a plan which we can all coordinate and use to bring down the level of piracy in the country.

“At the Nigerian Copyright Commission, we already have our projects and programmes to ensure that we have this connection, this synergy with the core industry players.

“And I am saying that we cannot fight piracy alone; we need to have that synergy, we need to be at the driver’s seat, no doubt, but we must carry along all the stakeholders.

“Currently, we are working on some intervention plans which unfortunately, because of the sensitive nature, I may not be able to go into details about at this point,’’ he said.

Asein said: “We know that we are talking with the Nigerian Publishers Association concerning the industry’’.

He noted that he had given out a hot telephone line of the commission to the general public, as a part of efforts to check the ugly trend.

According to him, the move is also to show the seriousness with which the commission is poised to fight piracy in the country.

“Let us not just keep talking, let us begin to address these issues squarely. We talked about the Somolu project which I have directed the commission’s state coordinator to begin to engage with authors in Lagos, as well as publishers.

“You know Somolu is like the book production point as it were. It is the destination point for authors who want to get their works published.

“We all know that anywhere there are high activities like that, there will be abuses and therefore there will certainly be issues of copyright abuses, piracy, which unfortunately, some of these publishers too are involved in,’’ the DG said.

He added that another major challenge faced by publishers was the fact that books, such as motivational, religious and others, were being sold in the streets, adding that majority of them were pirated copies. 

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