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Film CMO Takes Rights Management Parley To Delta, Edo

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Board member of AVRS, Chief Peddie Okao; Chairman of AVRS, Mahmood Ali-Balogun and another board member, Emma Nsikaku at the forum… in Benin City

Board member of AVRS, Chief Peddie Okao; Chairman of AVRS, Mahmood Ali-Balogun and another board member, Emma Nsikaku at the forum… in Benin City

There was an exceptional turn out of practitioners in the audio-visual industry at the stakeholders’ sensitization fora recently organised by Audio-Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS) in Asaba, Delta State and Benin City, Edo State respectively. Asaba and Benin are active movie production hubs in the South East and South South axis.

Following its approval by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in November 2014 as the nation’s sole Collective Management Organization (CMO) for audio-visual works, the body had begun its enlightenment campaign activities in February 2015, with Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos to enlighten stakeholders on the purpose, nature and operations of AVRS, as well as their rights and obligations to the society. It was with a view to establishing cordial working relationships with various stakeholders in the film industry.

While addressing the forum at Orchid Hotel, Asaba, chairman of AVRS, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun traced the long and painstaking process of the formation of AVRS and various activities leading to its approval on November 20, 2014 by Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). Also speaking, the Delta State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo expressed happiness that despite the initial delays in registration and approval, AVRS had finally commenced operations. He described the society as “an idea whose time has come and the beginning of a new journey towards a greater tomorrow in the audio-visual industry”.

A director of AVRS and erstwhile president of Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Mr. Emmanuel Isikaku bemoaned the apathy among some stakeholders in embracing new ideas. He made it clear that AVRS had become, in its short period of operations, the rallying point for stakeholders in the fight against movie piracy, and enjoined everyone to support the society to achieve its objectives.

Onitsha-based film producer, marketer and director of AVRS, Chief Osita Okeke (Ossy Afasson) reminded his colleagues from the South-East that their failure over the years to come out and participate fully in the activities of the movie industry had given their counterparts in Lagos an edge, making the industry appear more like a Lagos affair. He appealed to them to have a change of attitude or lose their benefits, as their laid-back posture would not stop initiatives like AVRS from thriving.

Other directors of AVRS who spoke in similar manner were Mr. Andy Amenechi and Mr. Patrick Doyle.

General Manager of AVRS, Eme Akiba-Eyo, stressed the need for stakeholders to register and be assignees of the society. She displaying samples of AVRS membership application form, work declaration form and deed of assignment, and made it clear that ownership of audio-visual content or rights did not confer automatic membership of AVRS on any stakeholder.

In her words, “It is very important for a right owner to fill the membership application form which is free, the works declaration form which serves as a proof of ownership of content, and the deed of assignment which empowers the society to represent you, protect your intellectual property rights and ensure that your royalties get to you as and when due”.

Akiba-Eyo stressed that AVRS was the only body that licensed to collect and distribute royalties in the audiovisual sector.

In Benin City, the forum, which held on April 23, 2015 at Prestige Hotel, took a similar pattern. The interactive sessions at both meetings provided stakeholders the opportunity to express their support for the body, voice their concerns and seek clarifications from the directors on all grey areas. Chief Peddy Okao, a director of AVRS who coordinated the Benin forum, enjoined every stakeholder present to take advantage of AVRS as additional revenue stream source. He opined that collective body would use every means at its disposal to collect and distribute to its members revenue that had been hitherto inaccessible by right owners.

Stakeholders expressed total support for AVRS and thanked the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Nigerian Film Corporation, World Intellectual Property Organization and the Norwegian Copyright Development Organization for the roles they played towards the establishment of the body.

The Asaba and Benin meetings recorded remarkable participation by members of relevant Nollywood guilds and associations including the Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria. With more than 350 persons in attendance, prominent Nollywood personalities present at both meetings included Kenneth Izuogu, Chief Fabian Dim, Iyke Odife, Jerry Amillio, George Edmond, Ugezu J. Ugezu, Henry Legema, Ifeanyi Azodo, Iyen Agbonifo, and Democracy Omoregie.

With the Lagos, Asaba and Benin Stakeholders’ Fora concluded, it is expected that AVRS sensitization train would be heading to Kano, Abuja, Jos and other significant movie production hubs across the country.


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