Nigerian author demands remedy for infringement by Reuters
… Seeks return of artwork
As Nigeria joins other nations to mark the 2018 World Book and Copyright Day, a Nigerian author, Mr. Author Judah Angel, has called on the Reuters News Agency, United States to pay the accrued compensation for infringing on his intellectual property.
Angel in a chat with newsmen in Lagos, during the Youth Orientation for Development (YOD) celebration of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Book and Copyright Day, themed “Securing Our Intellectual Property,” recalled that the artwork in question were compiled to sequentially narrate his ordeal in the prison where he was unfairly imprisoned for 16 years.
He wondered how an international organisation of such repute would engage in such violation, saying the contents, drawings are solely reserved for campaigns and was never meant to be sold, electronically, hard copy and otherwise.
He said, “’On the Gallows’, ‘Sorrows Tears and Blood’, ‘Shadows in the Dark….’ So have I titled some of my past arts exhibitions and presentations showcasing drawings that I painstakingly with my sweat and blood did during the sixteen calendar years I spent in unjust incarceration. My On the Gallows works ‘so fondly called’ became part of my life and majorly voice in speaking out against the death penalty since the year 2000 that I left prison.
“On the Gallows drawings were first exhibited in Quintessence Art Galley, Ikoyi Lagos in the year 2004. I started documenting my exhibitions and speaking engagements outings in the year 2006, but in the year 2007 I surprisingly discovered that my unfinished master tape video was missing in my studio. I couldn’t at the time find explanation for my missing video until seven years after that I stumbled on same missing video of mine broken into clips by Reuters News Agency and selling on ITN website. Each clip was sold for 2,658 pounds.
He continued “Neither Reuters nor ITN had contacted me before distorting and commercialising my work. At first I was relieved that at least a story of lost and found can at last be told, but deeply angered for the very fact that the actions of Reuters and ITN militated against the very reasons why ‘On the Gallows’ campaign was in the first place given birth to. I own copyrights to my works and never had I asserted price tag to any of the drawings. The damage done was huge.”
Angel who directed his lawyer to write to Reuters and ITN immediately after the discovery, further said, “In response it was ITN that wrote back first claiming not responsible for the theft of the my work but that they were only working for Reuters as archive keepers, they however dropped my work from their website and shifted blame to Reuters News Agency. The letter from ITN did not at all address the issue of compensation demand made by my lawyer neither of how my stolen work would be returned to me.”
His lawyer, Chiji Tony Lebechi, though the case with suit No FHC/L/CS/1080/17 is already in court, there are remedies for every infringement. “They should pay for damages done.”
President, UNESCO-YOD, Ambassador Emmanuel Ejiogu, who appealed to government and the relevant agency saddled with the responsibility of enforcing the copyright law in Nigeria to do more by ensuring that all intellectual thieves are adequately punished according to the law, said “we want to use this occasion to particularly draw the world’s attention to the unscrupulous theft of Mr. Angel’s works and paintings by Thomson Reuters USA and ITN London using this medium to demand justice in this regard.”
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