Copyright infractions: NCC reads riot act to online service providers

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The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has warned online service providers, including hosts of e-libraries that they would be held accountable for any copyright infringement on their platforms.

The director general of the agency, Mr. John O. Asein made the declaration during a visit of the newly elected executives of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) to the commission’s head office in Abuja recently.

Asein said the commission was paying more attention to online activities with a view to curbing the sale of pirated books via online stores.

Addressing a seven-man delegation led by the new ANA president, Mr. Camillus Ukah, the director general called on ANA to constitute an anti-piracy committee to interface with the NCC for proactive, sustained and effective anti-piracy campaign.

He decried contract gaps between authors and publishers in the country and indicated that the Commission would collaborate with ANA to develop model contracts to ensure proper rights clearance and adequate remuneration for authors in the book industry.

Noting that the absence of proper contractual agreements between authors and publishers has left many authors with unpleasant experiences, the Director-General also observed the necessity for new business models to ensure adequate recompense for authors, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stressing the importance of the literary field, Asein noted that creative writing was the bedrock of the wider creative industry, including Nollywood. In his words: “The movie industry could not have been where it is today without the literary talents turning out excellent film scripts. The author of the film script is often unsung, but they set the tone for good films and, like the faces of Nollywood, these scriptwriters also deserve to be celebrated,” he stated.

He commended the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka for recently demonstrating his unalloyed commitment to copyright values and lending his voice to denounce copyright infringement and abuses.

He said the commission would be pleased to adopt the Nobel Laureate as a copyright champion to help fight book piracy in the country.

He called on other notable authors to also step up support for the campaign against copyright piracy.

Asein urged ANA to take advantage of the commission’s copyright e-registration system and avail itself of the whistle blowing policy of the NCC by alerting the NCC on suspected pirates for effective enforcement.

“We should not allow rogues to take over the copyright space. ANA should intensify its copyright enlightenment campaign and encourage its members to sound an alarm wherever they find pirates at work. The Commission, on its part, pledges to always respond promptly to any alarm,” he stated.

In his remarks, Ukah said ANA was committed to reforms and strengthening of the copyright regime to address gaps in a bid to promote the economic interests of authors and advance the literary industry.

He expressed appreciation for the commission’s proactive measures towards checking piracy, citing its recent timely intervention to curb the online piracy of books belonging to Soyinka.

Ukah lauded the commission’s long-standing cooperation that the Association has enjoyed, particularly during the reform of the copyright system and assured of its continued collaboration with NCC.

The ANA President assured the commission that the new executive would work closely with it to promote copyright knowledge among authors and ensure that literary authors continued to use the copyright system optimally.

Representatives of the Commission and ANA were constituted into a working group to identify areas of immediate interest and facilitate collaboration.

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