Information Minister charges Nigerian broadcast stations to respect COSON copyright royalty agreement

File photo of Minister of Communication, Lai Mohammed receiving a copy of a book from COSON Chairman, Tony Okoroji, as popular gospel singer, Kenny Saint Best, looks on during a courtesy visit to the Minister in Abuja on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has called on all broadcasting stations operating in Nigeria to honour the copyright royalty agreement they entered into with Copyright Society of Nigeria through the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria and Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria in 2014.

The Minister made the call recently at the headquarters of his ministry in Abuja when he met with the COSON delegation, which was led by the Chairman, Tony Okoroji.

Also present at the meeting were the heads of all Federal Government-owned broadcasting agencies including the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission Ishaq Modibbo Kawu; the Director-General of Nigerian Television Authority; Yakubu Mohammed, and the Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mansur Liman. All Senior Assistants of the minister were also in attendance.

In his opening remark, the minister reiterated the need for a nationwide re-orientation as well as the need to respect copyright laws. Speaking further, he added that the Nigerian creative industries have the potentials to form the bedrock of a new Nigerian economy.

Addressing the minister, Mr. Okoroji said that his delegation was not in Abuja for photo opportunities with government officials but to seriously engage the government on matters that concern the Nigerian creative industries.

The COSON Chairman made several specific requests, which he said would produce speedy results and be of immense benefit to the nation. The requests include the following:

• The Federal Government should ensure the full implementation of the Private Copy Levy scheme without any further delay.

• The Federal Government should make it very clear to all telecommunications companies operating in Nigeria that henceforth, there will be zero tolerance for the infringement of the Intellectual Property rights of Nigerian citizens whose works are deployed by these companies.

• All Federal and State owned broadcasting stations and other government institutions must respect the intellectual property rights of citizens, as there is no provision under the law that exempts them from the infringement of copyright with respect to the content broadcast or deployed by them.

• The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should be requested as a matter of urgency to take necessary steps to begin the take down of the several pirate websites bastardizing and frittering away Nigerian Intellectual Property on the Internet.

• The Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ought to be requested to act swiftly to ensure that the brazen and massive piracy of Nigerian music, movies and literature across our continent is no longer tolerated.

• The Nigerian Copyright Commission should be given new vigour and empowered to pivot towards the effective implementation of anti-piracy measures in the digital environment as the nature of piracy has changed.

• The National Assembly should be made to act with dispatch to ensure the promulgation into law of the new Copyright Bill, which contains several provisions dealing with emerging issues and the infringement of copyright in the digital era.

• Necessary action should be taken to get the National Endowment Fund for the Arts up and running so that there are resources to take care of funding for creative projects and the welfare of creative people who have fallen into hard times.

It was agreed at the meeting that a working group comprising officials of the ministry, COSON, and government agencies would be urgently set up to address the issues raised at the meeting.

The COSON delegation to the Minister included Afro juju star, Shina Peters; Rub-a-dub maestro, Ras Kimono; Gospel music star, Kenny Saint Best, and Queen of love, Azeezat Allen.

Also in the delegation were COSON General Manager, Chinedu Chukwuji and COSON Public Affairs Consultant, Mrs. Lucy Ajayi.

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