The Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Distinguished Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA has said there is need for a new law that will protect intellectual property of Nigerians in film, book and works from other creative sectors against exploitation.
Senator Abiru made the assertion in Abuja on Tuesday at a one-day Public Hearing on the two bills; The Bill For An Act To Repeal The Copyright Act CAP C28 LFN 2004 and re-enact The Copyright Act 2021 And Other Connected Matters (SB.688) and (SB769).
Abiru who sponsored one of the critical bills which is a private member bill argued that, “The present Nigerian Copyright Act can no longer keep to the pace of the fast-growing digitization.
“My motivation for this legislative intervention is the need to address the emerging digital age that has revolutionized the creative economy as production and dissemination of creative works have become more accessible and particularly because of global exploitation of intellectual property beyond national boundaries”.
The Lagos East Senator noted that the current Copyright Act of 1988 has become grossly ineffective in the face of developments in the creative industries such as Nollywood and broadcasting industry, the music industry, the fashion industry, the book publishing industry, the art industry, and Nigeria’s emerging software and Apps industry.
“Many Nigerian businesses have disappeared and many Nigerian creators have died due to the harm occasioned by piracy and the weak mechanisms offered by the existing legal framework and successive government’s inability to sufficiently protect the Nigerian creative industry’’, Abiru stressed. He continued, “I am equally elated that the Executive through the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the copyright community have joined hands with me in my commitment to championing the copyright cause.
“I must congratulate all of us because this is the first time any Copyright Bill has advanced to the public hearing stage at the National Assembly under this democratic dispensation, since 1999. I am particularly delighted to see the enthusiasm of the Leadership and my colleagues in the National Assembly who have cooperated with me to see that my private members Bill SB 688 and the Executive Bill SB 769 were given accelerated hearing in view of their importance.
‘’I have no doubt in my mind that this joint Committee will do justice to the Bills before the Distinguished members. We are all in agreement that The Copyright Act is key to the economic transformation of Nigeria. These Bills will enable all the key players in the Copyright industry to achieve their goals”.
Earlier, the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan who was represented by the Senate Deputy Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi reiterated the determination of the Senate to put in place a new copyright regime where entertainers will get adequate reward for their labour.
The well-publicized Public Hearing organized by the Joint Senate Committees On Trade And Investment and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters attracted big names in the creative, movie and entertainment industry including Innocent Idibia (Tuface), Prince Jide Kosoko, Sola Solade, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Sola Sobowale, Fathia Balogun, Ejike Asiegbu, Francis Duru and Monalisa Chinda among others top entertainment stars.
Renowned experts in intellectual property law, Professor Bankole Sodipo and a former Director General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, Prof. Adebambo Adewopo,SAN, and current NCC DG, Mr John Asien , representatives from the Ministry of Justice were in attendance.
Groups that spoke to submitted memoranda include; Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria, Music Publishers Association of Nigeria, Record Labels Association of Nigeria, International Federation of Photographic Industry and Persons living with disabilities among others.
Stakeholders commended Senator Abiru for sponsoring a private member bill on Copyright.