The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), has reiterated its commitment to continued protection of authors’ intellectual property in Nigeria and beyond.
Mr John Asein, the Director-General, NCC, said this during a news briefing in Lagos on Wednesday.
Asein, who was represented by Mr Matthew Ojo, the Lagos Coordinator for the commission, said that the briefing was to commemorate the just concluded, “World Book and Copyright Day” usually celebrated globally on April 23.
The theme of this year is, “Discover the World through Reading.”
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1995, declared April 23 as a special day to focus on the wonderful world of books.
The Day is also to celebrate the enduring role of copyright in promoting and protecting the rights of authors and other stakeholders.
Asein said that the occasion was also to celebrate the contribution of books and authors to our global culture.
According to him, it is also to highlight the connection between copyright, creativity and books “to the propagation of our common values as humanity.“
“For us at Nigerian Copyright Commission, it is an opportunity to underscore the importance of creativity to our collective development aspiration as a nation.
“This is with particular emphasis on respect for copyright and the effective protection of the rights of our authors,” he said.
He said that as the commission joined the world to celebrate the book day as an enduring legacy, ” it is also saddening to note the decline in our reading culture.”
“This has become a major national concern in Nigeria, for its youth population.
“The essence of reading, particularly for leisure and personal enjoyment, cannot be overemphasised.
“Reading is for strengthening and sweetness of the mind, while physical exercise is to strengthen and for sweetness of the body.
“Book reading is food for the soul, the chisel that helps shape who will become in today’s knowledge driven world, “he said.
Asein said that the commission would continue to develop policies and strategies to facilitate culture of respect for authorship and copyright works.
“We will step up our enforcement and prosecutorial activities to stem the tide of copyright infringements, both off and online.
“We are discussing with the Nigerian Publishers Association to explore ways of creating safe corridors for the distribution of legitimate books in Nigeria.
“We will also reinvigorate our compliance checks in schools and other institutions of learning to sensitise them on the need to patronise only genuine copies of books through legitimate channels of distribution, “he said.
He said henceforth, proprietors, heads of schools and authorities in charge would be held “vicariously responsible“ for any pirated books distributed to pupils and students through their schools.
“We shall also be taking appropriate steps under the law to sanction institutions found involved in mindless and unconscionable use and promotion of pirated books, ” he said.
Asein said that NCC had also embraced developments in the international copyright community, to create more inclusive culture of access to published works for blind and visually impaired persons and persons otherwise print disabled.
“Nigeria, in October 2017, ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled.
“We have also gone ahead to make provision for the domestication of the treaty in the new Copyright Bill recently approved by the Federal Executive Council.
“On a more practical note, the commission, with help from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its Accessible Book Consortium, is collaborating with the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB).
“The Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG), and other key stakeholders to provide more books in accessible formats for blind and visually impaired persons in Nigeria, “he said.
He said that a pilot project on capacity building assistance, provision of accessible books and assertive technologies to students in that category have already commenced.
“This is another demonstration of the Federal Government policy on inclusiveness, equal access and non-discrimination against persons living with disabilities.
“On its part, the commission will continue to propagate the campaign to “Let the Blind Read,” he said.
Asein urged stakeholders in the creative industry to support government in its efforts in revamping the sector.
He also said that the commission would help to build a copyright system that would help to maximise its potential to boost national economic development.