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Cultural industries drive growth, development, says Gurry

By Edirotial
31 December 2009   |   3:56 am
THE copyright industry had a swell time in the outgoing year championed by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). In addition to series of anti-piracy raids carried out in the nooks and crannies of the country, the commission also fostered partnership with relevant agencies in the intellectual property world to strengthen its Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP). Foremost in this direction was the intellectual property workshop the commission organized in collaboration with the University of Ibadan; as well as inter-agency seminar co-sponsored with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) early in the year. But what could be described as flagship event was the 20th anniversary lecture of NCC delivered on September 1, 2009 at NICON-Luxury, Abuja by the Director-General of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva,

Dr. Francis Gurry. The issues raised by the guest speaker were germane to stamp out piracy and other copyright infringements, the assignment that the commission has continued to address with zeal and vigour. The text of Gurry’s presentation is hereby reproduced below for better appreciation: “We are here today to celebrate the NCC’s presence on the Nigerian cultural landscape over the last two decades – a presence which has been marked by numerous important milestones and characterized by several noteworthy successes. Our very attendance at this celebration of the NCC’s anniversary signifies in no uncertain terms that we are all committed to fostering and developing Nigeria’s copyright and neighboring rights infrastructure. We all believe that, by nurturing this infrastructure, we will be advancing Nigeria’s cultural, social and economic growth.

It is difficult to believe that 20 years have passed since the then Nigerian Copyright Council was established in a wave of hope, expectations and good intentions.

I am told that Mr. Adebambo Adewopo’s first public assignment in 2004 was adorned by the high profile destruction of counterfeit books at the National Theatre complex in Lagos. The NCC then embarked on a “new dawn” in copyright administration, with a determination to create an environment that is conducive to making the nascent copyright system a key player in Nigeria’s economic development process. Well aware of the importance of the copyright system to Nigeria’s economy, the NCC is keen to reinforce its role in the administration, protection and enforcement of rights – rights which formed “the economic base of the creative industry”.

For the past two decades, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been waging a crusade to rid the Nigerian economy of the scourge of piracy, aimed at developing the necessary IPR infrastructure within which creative businesses and cultural industries can flourish in Nigeria.

“Cultural industries are a source of development, understood not only in terms of economic growth, but also as a means of access to a satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.” (United Nations Diagnosis of the Human Rights Situation in Mexico: Cultural Rights, 2003).

Creative industries play an important role in the cultural and economic life of many people, embodying tradition and heritage. Specially, the film industry amalgamates an artistic, educational, social, and sometimes even political content, turning into a national identity-bearing agent. Its work combines different contributions and talents, which make it highly complex, a sui generis artisan-artistic-industrial work protected by copyright.

Nigeria is rich in tradition and folklore; its creators have the opportunity to create culturally-distinct works for which there is great demand in this increasingly uniform world.

Nigeria is known for being at the heart of African music, and for possessing a well developed music industry which has achieved international acclaim. It has a vibrant book publishing industry, with more publishing houses than any other African country and an influential literature, including a Nobel Prize laureate.

For the past 15 years, “Nollywood” has fuelled an insatiable appetite in Africa’s most populous country for homegrown films made by Nigerians, about Nigerians. It is an industry made possible by affordable digital technology, and is driven by the ingenuity, resourcefulness and keen business sense of Nigeria’s people. It is an example for many developing countries that seek to foster domestic creative industries.

These films do not just find their way into the home viewing market and video outlets. Dedicated satellite channels with significant portions of Nigerian and Ghanaian programmes are being broadcast to consumers as far a-field.

Some estimates even put “Nollywood” production at well over 1,000 films annually. Nollywood generates hundreds of millions of US dollars per annum in revenues which directly benefit Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.

The possibility of high returns on investment has attracted ever more hopefuls into the industry, which is now becoming a major employer.

There is an indubitable link between the copyright and neighboring rights infrastructure on the one hand, and the stimulation of Nigeria’s cultural industries on the other.

It is therefore critical for us all to continue our mission of developing Nigeria’s copyright and neighbouring rights infrastructure which provides the financial stimulus to enhance creativity which in turn alleviates poverty.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has taken the lead in recent years to develop the baseline methodologies for calculating the line between a country’s cultural industries and such country’s economy.

Using the standard pioneered by WIPO, several surveys have been successfully undertaken and demonstrated just how copyright can be the engine for economic development.

By way of example, surveys carried out in accordance with the methodology established by WIPO have demonstrated that, in Jamaica, the copyright industries added value of 4.8% to Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and accounted for 3% of Jamaica’s employment. In the Philippines, copyright accounted for 4.9% of the GDP and 11.1% of total employment.

I know that the NCC is itself conducting research in the area within the confines of the Nigerian Economy. The Study is envisaged to be completed on November 30, 2009 and I look forward to reading the results. I feel confident that these results will be consistent with the results of surveys elsewhere in the developing world and that they will be utilized to guide the formulation of policies that are in support of creative industries.

Intensified efforts are required to provide a sustainable copyright environment and to build a strong legal and financial framework within which creativity can be expressed, protected, used to create jobs, sustain livelihoods and showcase the abundantly rich local culture. This requires a multi-faceted approach, including at least the following elements:

Consolidation of the normative framework

Despite the fact that Nigeria has a well-articulated copyright law, there is room for some improvement in order to regulate and introduce legitimate practices in the music, publishing and film markets, as well as a holistic approach to support legitimate distribution of creative content. Digital content delivery should be secured through the deployment of technologies for identification of works and right holders, as well as an appropriately-implemented technological protection. The commitment by WIPO Member-States in the most recent session of the SCCR to continue the work on developing the international protection of performances in audiovisual media is of significant importance for Nigeria. We look forward to Nigeria’s active involvement in developing possible solutions to improving the prospects for the international protection of audiovisual performances. Nigeria has also played a significant role in the negotiations on a draft treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations, where some progress could be made and has taken part in the multilateral discussions on copyright exceptions and limitations with a particular focus on the needs of the visually impaired.

Development of copyright infrastructure

The development of a sustainable national music and entertainment industry cannot be achieved without a guarantee of adequate remuneration for the exploitation of the works of composers and creators of music. Any user needs to be able to clear rights in a simple and straightforward manner. Such needs are all the greater in the on-line world, a world in which the global use of copyright works requires a global licensing system. Collective management provides that global system.

Given the importance of collective management to the development of copyright, it is essential that today’s collective management system is structured and is functioning in a manner which provides optimum benefit. In this regard, the major players in the Nigerian collective management field should be congratulated on their dedication, commitment and persistence to the principles of collective management over the years. However there are still many challenges facing the Nigerian Collective management system, I would therefore say that there is more to be gained by working together.

I know I am preaching to the converted when I say that collective management organizations are the gate keepers of creative wealth. They should therefore guarantee high-quality service to the user community. Formulating, developing and deploying collective management as a competitive tool demands a complex web of technical and managerial skills harnessed to the need to create a critical mass of collective management specialists and set up and improve institutional capacity. The system has dramatically been made even more complex by the digital technology which poses challenges to its rationale, as well as to its capacity to adapt to new business licensing models and forms of content delivery.

WIPO is strongly committed to support copyright, including collective management and is determined to position itself as a high quality service provider to the Member-States and a central repository for devising innovative solutions for collective management that are responsive to the challenges ahead. WIPO’s technical assistance and capacity building in the framework of the cooperation for development programme in collective management will be focused on a demand-driven and service-oriented approach to cater to the special needs of developing countries and LDCs.

Human resources development would aim at enhancing institutional and operational capacity to create a critical mass of collective management expertise and specialists and improve the understanding of collective management system as a stimulus for creativity and investment.

Moreover, providing CMOs with electronic rights management solutions and systems to fully benefit from the use of digital technology for transparent, rapid identification of rights owners, works and content, and for precise distribution of revenues at national and international level has become an overwhelming challenge in this area.

Multi-territorial and global licensing will trigger a dramatic change in collective management legal and business environment, thus exposing WIPO to its responsibility to devise innovative and reliable solutions to identify the needs of the Member-States in terms of policy orientation and strategic developments in order to guarantee and remunerate literary and artistic works and rights owners, and to foster security for online users, content providers and the copyright industry.

Building respect for IP through education and enforcement campaigns

Only a few years ago, piracy of artistic and literary works did not constitute a serious and generalized problem. The emergence of new technological inventions with regards to communications, combined with the phenomenon of globalization and the resulting growth in merchandise flows, opened possibilities, as never before, to illegally reproduce and commercialise products protected by copyright.

Technological development opened the doors, almost instantaneously, to reproduce at an unexpected speed, goods with contents protected by copyright such as audiovisual works, phonograms, computer programs and books, creating in this manner a revolution in crime, which started to seriously damage important industrial sectors in a very short time.

As never before, technologies, goods and necessary provisions were available to reproduce “pirate products” on a large scale ready to be introduced directly into the channels of commerce and being sold to public.

Widespread piracy means that huge sums are running through the parallel economy. The international Intellectual Property Alliance estimates that trades losses in 2007 due to Nigeria copyright piracy amounted to well over US$100 million. These sums benefit neither the Nigerian rights holders, nor the Nigerian Federal Government, and represent a significant loss for legitimate players but a major gain for illicit traders and organised crime.

It has to be said that copyright abuse is not limited to illicit traders and organised crime operating within the parallel economy. The theft of an artist’s IP is not yet equated in the public mind with other offences against property. The consumers must be educated, through strong awareness campaigns, about the importance and benefits of buying genuine products, how to identify genuine creative products and how to help protect creators of these works.

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy initiatives taken by the NCC under the Director General’s leadership is its Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP) launched in 2005. Since its inception, STRAP has proved an effective enforcement tool to combat piracy and other types of copyright infringement. The Copyright Optical Discs Plants Regulation 2006, launched in April 2007 by the NCC, has reinforced the Commission’s enforcement powers, helping the NCC to identify genuine optical discs plants and to ensure that illegal reproduction is eradicated.

As the primary intergovernmental organisation charged with promoting the protection of IP, WIPO has highlighted the importance of the enforcement of IP Rights in a new Strategic Goal, providing for “International Cooperation in Building Respect for IP”. It is a cross-cutting goal, which is a more inclusive than narrower concept of enforcement. It calls for creating such an enabling environment, a balanced approach, focusing on international cooperation. To implement this Strategic Goal, the objective of Program 17 “Building Respect for IP” looks for “strengthened capacity in Member-States for the effective enforcement of IP rights in the interest of social and economic development and consumer protection, and informed policy discussions at the international level to support the creation of an enabling environment that promotes respect for IP in a sustainable manner.”

WIPO plays a leading role in encouraging and facilitating the international coordination of enforcement-related activities, working with Member-States in the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) and with public-private partnerships such as the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy. WIPO also provides extensive assistance to Member-States through training programmes for law enforcement officials, case law compilations for the judiciary, legislative advice, help in formulating concerted IP-enforcement strategies, and public awareness campaigns to help combat counterfeiting and piracy.


As we look back over the events of the last 20 years, this is perhaps an apposite moment also to look forward to the next 20 years. Complacency is the antithesis of progress and so it would be foolish to believe that our work is done. Key to the continued success of Nigeria’s cultural industries is the continued development of Nigeria’s copyright and neighboring rights infrastructure.

In the next two decades, the NCC’s role will be rarely uneventful, sometimes thankless – but always essential. After all, if the NCC is strong, Nigeria’s rights infrastructure will be robust – and if this infrastructure is robust, Nigeria’s cultural industries will continue to grow. If Nigeria’s cultural industries continue to grow, Nigeria’s economy will be the beneficiary.

In carrying out its duties in the months and years ahead, the NCC can therefore count on my personal commitment to least developed and developing countries. This commitment is not borne simply of an abstract, altruistic desire to see a level playing field between the nations of the world. Rather, my commitment is borne of a practical, concrete realisation that IP is an engine for economic growth – and that economic growth should be available to all such nations.

So for now, let us celebrate the last 20 years with a large dose of well deserved pride and justifiable satisfaction. Tomorrow is a new day and will bring with it fresh challenges. WIPO will always be available to assist the NCC in the construction of the IP strategies and will be there to help the NCC in formulating policies; policies which will make appositive, tangible and concrete contribution to Nigeria’s social, cultural and economic development.