Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) have committed to the development and implementation of a national anti-piracy strategy to address the sale of pirated books, films, music and other copyright-infringing materials in and around the nation’s local and international airports.
Both federal agencies agreed to work out the modalities for sustained proactive enforcement to ensure that the interests of rights owners are adequately protected in line with the Federal Government’s policy of guaranteeing adequate returns on investment and growing the creative sector.
FAAN Managing Director Captain Rabiu Yadudu and NCC Director-General Mr John O Asein disclosed this during a recent consultative meeting held at the FAAN Headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos.
Captain Yadudu gave his assurance that the FAAN would partner with the NCC to ensure that its premises do not become a safe haven for pirates. He reiterated the commitment of FAAN to support the NCC in its renewed fight against piracy in Nigeria.
According to him: “We are committed as Government agencies to protect public interest even in copyright matters and we owe a duty to assist each other in executing our mandates. The legal and commercial teams of FAAN will be deployed to assist NCC to strengthen its enforcement actions at airports across the country.”
While decrying the pervasive piracy in all copyright sectors, the FAAN MD urged rights owners and other stakeholders in the industry to address the challenges in the distribution networks so as to make genuine copyright works more readily available in the market.
Earlier, NCC DG Mr Asein had expressed concern at the high volume of pirated materials at the country’s airports and the negative impact of this, not only on the fortunes of rights owners but also on the nation’s image.
He stressed that the criminal activities of a small percentage of Nigerians were capable of distorting the country’s image as a land of talented, industrious and law-abiding people.
Mr Asein noted with regret that the activities of pirates have adversely affected the educational sector and threatened the book industry.
According to the Director-General, some of the authors whose books were highly pirated included those of Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, former Presidents like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan as well as renowned authors like Olusegun Adeniyi.
Explaining the commitment of the NCC to ridding Nigeria of reckless distribution of pirated materials, he remarked that his agency in collaboration with relevant sister agencies would intensify efforts at different production, distribution and sales points; at border posts; air and seaports; hotels, malls and other public places; and on the streets, as part of a comprehensive action plan against all forms of piracy and copyright abuses.
“The Commission needs FAAN as well as other regulatory and enforcement agencies as key partners in its renewed drive to curb wanton copyright infringement in Nigeria. We are committed to the full implementation of our mandate for sustainable growth of the creative industry. With your support, copyright piracy will not thrive under our watch,” he said.
Commenting on the development, the Chairman of the Anti-Piracy Committee of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Mr Lawrence Aladesuyi, described the inter-agency initiative as a proactive effort which would stem the tide of piracy in Nigeria and change the negative image that pirates were creating for the country. Observing that piracy kills creativity and the creative industry as well as denies Government of legitimate revenue since pirates evade tax payment, Mr Aladesuyi urged the FAAN to explore its partnership with the NCC to stamp out piracy outlets in all their platforms. He assured of the support of the NPA for what he described as “a long-awaited, laudable initiative.”