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As it is the occasion of the World Book And Copyright Day, Friday, April 23, 2021, www.beats-onit.com offers readers the address by Mr. John O. Asein, Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) below:
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) joins millions of stakeholders in the knowledge industry – authors, publishers, printers, booksellers, teachers, librarians and the general reader – to celebrate this year’s World Book and Copyright Day. As one of the most enduring inventions of humankind, books remain a veritable tool of learning and recreation. Books educate, enlighten, entertain and equip the individual to function better and contribute significantly to the social, economic and political development of a nation.
No wonder it has been asserted that the volume of a country’s total book stock is an index of its economic growth and level of development. For books to contribute meaningfully to development, they must not only be well written and published but must also be made readily available and read. It is therefore equally important to pay more attention to the promotion of reading, particularly amongst children and young persons in order to help build their character and assist them in imbibing the core values that the society holds dear.
The theme for this year’s celebration in Nigeria, Tell A Story: Book and National Development, points to the role of the book, in whatever form, as a veritable tool of development. As society embraces new information and communication technology, the book has also become more easily accessible on several platforms. While some of these platforms may be distracting, they make books more convenient to carry around and read on the go.
More than ever before, literacy and education have become both practical and cultural necessities. The dominant socio-economic systems in today’s knowledge architecture are best operated profitably by men and women who possess sufficient knowledge while the potentials of modern education are likely to be available more to those who read good books. Authors and publishers therefore have a strategic role to play in the management and dissemination of knowledge which as a double-edged sword could either build or destroy, depending on the slant that is given to a story. They have a sacred duty to use the power of the book not only as a sustaining pillar for teaching, learning and research, but also as a vehicle for advancing cross-cultural understanding, social cohesion, national integration, political stability and international diplomacy.
The Commission has in the last decade deployed more of its resources to enforcement activities and has continued to intensify its anti-piracy operations around piracy hotbeds across the country. It has in the process removed from the channels of commerce, millions of pirated copyright works, comprising books, software, DVDs, CDs, MP3 and offending contrivances worth billions of Naira. Much of the successes recorded has been as a result of collaboration with other enforcement and security agencies, including the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Police.
While calling on all players in the book value chain from authors to the final retail bookseller to abide by the copyright law, we are aware that the campaign against piracy and other copyright abuses can only be won when there is attitudinal change amongst the consuming public. The NCC is therefore soliciting for the cooperation and support of the public not only by shunning pirated materials but also by reporting cases of piracy to the Commission. The Commission is aware that unlike pharmaceuticals or other consumable products where the dire consequences of counterfeit could be deadly, the lure of cheap pirated materials makes the fight against piracy more daunting. But piracy kills creativity, steals from the author and eventually destroys the economy. It is therefore a major hindrance to the realisation of the full potentials of the book industry as a tool of national development.
As we join other book lovers across the globe in this year’s celebrations, the Nigerian Copyright Commission acknowledges the power of the book and the place of authors and the publishing industry in shaping the thoughts and lives of a people. We therefore encourage more authors to share their copyright story and draw attention to the ills of piracy. In this regard, the Commission will be working with the authors and publishers’ associations to document experiences. Unless all critical stakeholder groups join hands to confront the menace of piracy, books will remain endangered to the detriment of authors and if unchecked could lead to a famished knowledge ecosystem.
Through a sustainable and responsible use of the copyright system, may we all discover the author in us and continue to encourage other authors to share their stories through books for the development of Nigeria and the benefit of humanity.
Thank you and once again, Happy World Book and Copyright Day.