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The Federal Government has kick-started the process for the first major reform of the nation’s copyright system in over three decades. This followed the transmission of the Copyright (Repeal) Bill as approved by the Federal Executive Council to the National Assembly for enactment into law.
Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. John O. Asein, who disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, stated that the new Bill, which aimed at overhauling the copyright system in Nigeria, sought to, among others, strengthen the enforcement mechanism for copyright violations through stiffer penal sanctions and more effective procedures better suited to the digital environment.
The Director-General indicated that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had considered and approved the draft Bill at its meeting of June 13, 2018 (Ref. EC 2018), sequel to its presentation to the Council by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
According to the statement signed on behalf of the Director-General by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Vincent A. Oyefeso, “Some of the new issues addressed in the Bill include the right of remuneration for some categories of copyright owners, special exceptions for blind, visually impaired and print disabled persons, provision against circumvention of technological protection measures, rights management information, an elaborate enforcement mechanism for online infringement, and stiffer sanctions for criminal infringements of copyright”.
The Director-General revealed that the Executive Bill on Copyright had provisions for addressing the country’s outstanding obligations under the relevant international copyright treaties.
Mr. Asein noted that the cardinal objectives of the Bill were to: “(a) protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts; (b) provide appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works; (c) facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations arising from relevant international copyright treaties; and (d) enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for effective regulation, administration, and enforcement”.
He observed that, following the launch of a comprehensive reform of Nigeria’s copyright system in 2012 and based on clearly defined national aspirations, a first Draft Copyright Bill, in line with global standards, was released to the public in February 2015.
Added the statement: “Based on the comments from stakeholders and the public, the draft was extensively revised by a team of national experts before it was presented to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval”.
“The new Bill, which is the product of years of extensive consultation with local and international stakeholders, industry practitioners, right owner associations, experts in copyright and other interested persons, would be the first major overhaul of the nation’s copyright system in over three decades”.
The Director-General stated that in view of the recent resolution of the House of Representatives on the need to strengthen the NCC to live up to its expectations and mandates, “the Commission is hopeful that the Bill will receive favourable attention”.
Remarked he: “The Commission appeals to all stakeholders and partners to support the process”.