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IPLAN, stakeholders urge review of copyright laws

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The Intellectual Property Law Association of Nigeria (IPLAN) has urged stakeholders in the industry to support efforts aimed at reforming Nigeria’s intellectual property laws.

Rising from its pre-AGM Workshop held last week in Lagos on the heels of the World Book and Copyright Day celebrated on April 23 of every year, the policy and advocacy group noted that the key legislations that deal with protection of intellectual property were in dire need of urgent and drastic reform, urging the National Assembly to gear up for the task ahead. The laws include the Copyright Act, Cap. C28, LFN 2004; Trademarks Act Cap. T13, LFN 2004 and Patents and Designs Act, Cap. P2, LFN 2004.

Pioneer Chairman of the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), Professor Egerton Uvieghara while commending IPLAN for its advocacy work in the area of law reform, noted that Nigeria was losing huge revenue due to its outdated intellectual property laws. Laying the blame on the doorsteps of the National Assembly, the renowned author and former Commissioner at the Nigeria Law Reform Commission said: “We have been repeating ourselves over the years but nothing seems to have been done.

The National Assembly members are over-pampered. Nigeria is losing a lot of money because the National Assembly has refused to do the right thing. They are collecting more than they are giving us.”

Uvieghara who was Chairman of the committee that drafted the Copyright Act also noted that the Copyright Act curbed the exploitation of artistes by recording companies, but warned that developments over the years have made a review a matter of national emergency.

On his part, the Director-General of NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude stated that the commission made 256 raids leading to removal of pirated materials worth over N8 billion. It also secured 54 criminal convictions including prison sentences to serve as a deterrent to others, while 172 trials are ongoing at the Federal High Court. The commission has also moved from manual to electronic registration of copyright materials, even as it continues to support collecting societies to enable rights owners and content providers reap the fruits of their labour.

Ezekude noted that the NCC has launched a reform of the copyright system to strengthen the bundle of rights available to copyright owners, adding that a draft Copyright Bill has been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General for review and presentation to the National Assembly.

Emeritus President of IPLAN, Prof. Bankole Sodipo observed that there are no pending intellectual property bills at the National Assembly but noted that there are ongoing efforts by the regulatory authorities to redress this.



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