Bills to re-position Nigeria Creative Industries underway

Solomon Chung, Abuja

L-R: General Manager, Copyright Society of Nigeria, Mr Chinedu Chukwuji, Veteran Musician Ras Kimono, Fuji Music Maestro Sir Shina Peters, Kenny Saint Best, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Chairman COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji,Public Affairs Consultant of COSON, Mrs. Lucy Ajayi and Director of COSON, Aleelat Allen when the COSON Executives paid a courtesy visit to the Minister in his office in Abuja on Thursday.

Three bills will be presented to the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in its effort to re-position for optimal performance through legislative and regulatory framework.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed made this known when he received some officials of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) on a courtesy visit.

“We are putting three bills before the National Assembly. The first is the National Endowment for the Arts) NEA) , the second is Motion Picture Council of Nigeria(MOPICON) because we believe that we must create that enabling environment for the creative industry and the third is the bill for the Establishment of the Tourism Development Fund,” he said.

New opportunity
Mr. Mohammed said the current situation under which artists access funds at high interest rates for their production was not encouraging and that the enactment of the NEA would open new vista of opportunity for players in the industry to access funds.

He explained that MOPICON, on the other hand, would provide a self-regulatory framework to guide and standardise the activities of the nation’s movie industry, while the Tourism Development Fund would help in providing funds for training and project development, among others.

The Minister identified piracy as the biggest challenge facing the creative industry and advised COSON to partner with other stakeholders in the industry to form a ‘Task Force’ that will work along with the government to check the menace of pirates.

On the issue of payment of royalty on music being played by government-owned broadcast stations, the Minister insisted that the existing agreement between COSON and the broadcasters should be respected for the mutual benefit of both parties.

Reviewing laws
He acknowledged that the Private Copy Levy was a veritable instrument that would guard against the infringement of intellectual property rights, but emphasised that the law has to be reviewed to conform with current realities.

“Yes, it is correct that Section 28 of the Law provides for it. You are also right to say that in Year 2012, the Attorney General actually signed the document, but unfortunately there are issues that we all need to sit down together to resolve before the Private Copy Levy Law can even be implemented. One which we all agreed is that when this law was signed, the level of technology is not what it is today. If you want to implement that law, you are going to run into a lot of challenges.”

“My advice is that we should look at that law and see whether we are going to amend it to take care of the challenges of technology, otherwise we will not be able to implement it,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed said his ministry and that of Justice, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, as well as COSON need to come together and take a second look at the Private Copy Levy with a view to making the law effective in line with current realities.

He said COSON also needed to engage with the telecommunications companies to agree on how the two parties could mutually benefit from the intellectual property of the musicians being used by the companies.

The Minister restated the commitment of the present administration to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the Creative Industry becomes a viable economy. According to him, the future of Nigeria is in the Creative Industry and not in commodities.

Protecting intellectual property
COSON President, Tony Okoroji commended the Minister for being a quintessential public servant.

He expressed confidence in the present administration’s political will to implement policies that would protect the intellectual property of the artists.

”COSON is on an advocacy to put value to Nigeria’s music in
view of the widespread infringement on intellectual property right by broadcast stations, telecommunications companies and online platforms,”
he stated.

Okoroji stressed the need to put in place a regulatory framework that will utilize music to create wealth for the nation, particularly the implementation of the Private Copy Levy.

Also at the meeting were the Directors General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr Kawu Modibbo; Nigerian Television Authority, Yakub Ibn Mohammed and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Mansur Liman.