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FG to go tough against online piracy, other intellectual theft

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Publishers Urge Govt To Revamp Paper Mills To Make Books Accessible
• Say Poverty Responsible For Dwindling Reading Culture
• Tade Ipadeola, Anote Ajeluorou Read From Their Kind Of Books

The Federal Government has stated its determination to stamp out online and physical piracy and other forms of intellectual theft in order to encourage creativity and for the rightful owner of literary works to reap the benefits of their brainchild.

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This also comes as the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA) called on the Federal Government to revamp moribund paper mills in the country to make books accessible to Nigerians.

Government stated this during the activities marking the 2021 World Book and Copyright Day in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

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.

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According to the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), John O. Asein, “Authors and publishers 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 the 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.

While calling on all players in the book value chain from authors to the final retail bookseller to abide by the copyright law, Asein said, “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.”

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He said, “the NCC is 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.”

Speaking with journalists during a roadshow in Ibadan to celebrate the day, the book, authors, and publishers, Mrs. Olabisi Ogundiran, the Southwest/ Ibadan Coordinator of NCC comprising Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo States, said piracy was the main challenge to book publication.

Mrs. Ogundiran, who said piracy was a serious crime that kills creativity and morale, maintained that the federal government is ready to fight the scourge to the standstill both virtually and physically.

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Ogundiran urged authors and publishers not to be discouraged, saying the NCC is there to protect their works and fight the menace. “Piracy is the main challenge. That is why the FG has mandated NCC to fight piracy is at its ramifications. NCC is determined to fight it to the standstill. Either online or physical.”

Mr. Olawale Adebayo, the Operations Manager, Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), said poverty is responsible for low reading culture.

Adebayo called on the government to give a tax rebate to publishers and revamp paper mills to make books accessible, available and affordable.

He also urged the government to empower NCC so that they would be able to fight piracy and plagiarism.

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On his part, Mr. Kayode Motunrayo called for the strengthening of the copyright law and implementation of Copyright Levy 2012.

Meanwhile, as the world marked the day, Prisenda Writers Residency Initiative (PWRI) hosted five Nigerian writers in a conversation. Tagged ‘My Kind of Books’, the event, which held virtually, enabled the writers to engage with some books that have shaped their literary direction.

Among the writers include, award-winning poet and lawyer, Mr. Tade Ipadeola (The Sahara Testament), poet and short story writer, Iquo Diana-Abasi (Eforiro), novelist Ayodele Olofintuade (Lakiriboto Chronicles: A History of Badly Behaved Women), novelist, poet, and founder, PWRI, Titi Horsfall (Influence of a King) and children’s story writer, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou (Igho Goes to Farm).

These writers talked about their kind of books and read excerpts from them to regale the virtual audience from across the globe.

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According to Programme Director, Mr. Samuel Osaze, “My Kind of Books is a platform where participants have the pleasure to talk about the books that have influenced their lifestyle, changed their worldview and brought about a paradigm shift, highlights of the books, about the authors and the circumstances surrounding how they got the books, etc.

“It’s the PWRI way of celebrating the World Book and Copyright Day, 2021. This programme also keys into the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Share a Story’, especially after the world is gradually emerging from a pandemic that is still ravaging parts of the world. These writers will share their stories of influential books with the audience, who no doubt will be enriched at the sheer diversity that is bound to emerge from the conversation. It’s an exciting and diverse line-up of writers whose experiences will enrich our lives.”

One of the writers, Ajeluorou, said the proposed focus, ‘My Kind of Book’, is apt and fresh perspective that takes the writers’ minds away from the usual piracy focus of such celebrations in previous years.

“For once, let’s have something different and refreshing,” he said. “While not losing sight of the economic menace pirates continue pose to writers and the book chain, let’s dwell on other issues that are at the heart of creativity, that shape writers’ perspectives and provide a source of inspiration for them to create exciting writing.”

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