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‘School proprietors patronising pirated books to be prosecuted’

By Sunday Aikulola
26 September 2021   |   1:23 am
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has hinted that it is working on a new regulatory framework for book printers, and booksellers to ensure that they operate within the bounds of the law.

Director-General, NCC, John Asein,

• NCC Working On Regulatory Framework For Book Printers, Sellers

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has hinted that it is working on a new regulatory framework for book printers, and booksellers to ensure that they operate within the bounds of the law.

Speaking on behalf of the Director-General of the Commission, Dr. John O. Asein, the Director, NCC Lagos Office, Mr. Matthew Ojo, disclosed this recently when he led an antipiracy operation in Lagos.

Three suspected copyright pirates engaged in illicit printing of schoolbooks were arrested in the process. The suspects, Miss Elizabeth Alomilewe, Mr. Angus Umeh and Mr. Nchekwube Obi, were arrested on the premises for contravening the provisions of the Copyright Act.

The Commission confiscated 10,000 copies of printed materials at different stages of production, estimated at over N10 million during the raid carried out by Copyright Inspectors at printing outlets in Ikate, Surulere, Lagos State on Friday, 17 September 2021. The materials seized included printing plates, book covers, inner texts belonging to different authors and publishers.

Some of the titles found in the custody of the suspects included Nigerian Primary English Workbook 6, 4th Edition and New Method Mathematics for Primary Schools, Workbook 1, 4th Edition belonging to Learn Africa; Progressive Mathematics for Upper Primary Schools, Examination Classes 5-6 belonging to Sunrise Publishers. Others were The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; Let Me Die Alone by John Kolisa Kargbo, published by Tonid Standard Publishers; Save The African Womb by Nicole Chinelo; and Unexpected Joy At Dawn by Alex Agyoi Agyiri, from Sub Saharan Publishers, etc.

Ojo cautioned operators in the printing industry to stay away from piracy, adding that the Commission will step up its vigilance and routine inspection of printing facilities to check their criminal activities.

He indicated that investigation was ongoing and the suspects would soon be charged to court. He drew the attention of printers to their obligation under the Copyright Act to keep registers of works and ensure due diligence in the clearance of rights.

The Director reassured authors and publishers that the Commission remained committed to providing safe corridors for their businesses to protect legitimate businesses and investment in the creative sector.

According to him, the Commission would do everything to check the inflow of pirated materials into the book market while not relenting in its national antipiracy campaign to disrupt criminal activities in the book chain.

MEANWHILE, school proprietors who are found distributing or patronising pirated books would, henceforth, be arrested and prosecuted, Asein has cautioned.

Asein gave this warning while speaking on Brekete Family Reality Talk Magazine Programme during a copyright advocacy visit to Human Rights Radio 101.1 FM and Television Station, in Abuja recently.

Reading the riot act, the Director-General stated that the Commission was intensifying its antipiracy campaign against all forms of copyright piracy, particularly in the book industry, as schools resume for the new academic session.

According to him, it is incumbent on school proprietors, principals, heads of schools and those responsible for the management of schools to ensure that they patronised accredited publishers’ representatives and booksellers to avoid falling into the hands of unscrupulous elements with intent to channel pirated books through the book system.

The Director-General also urged the public to support the efforts of the Commission by reporting any suspicious activities of printers, booksellers and warehouses, especially in residential areas. He advised them to avoid street traders.

While enlightening the public on the Commission’s mandates, he stressed the importance of intellectual property (IP), particularly copyright, to the socio economic development of the country and expressed concern that piracy constituted a major challenge to the creative industry. He lamented that billions of Naira were being lost annually to the nefarious activities of pirates and those he described as enemies of IP growth.

The Director-General proposed more collaboration among the agencies responsible for IP matters, to provide a one-stop shop for better service delivery and prompt response to the needs of the creative and innovative Nigerians. He also commended the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other enforcement and security agencies for supporting the Commission in the national antipiracy campaign.

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