Bill for Copyright Act 2021 passes second reading

A Bill for the repeal of the Copyright Act Cap 2004 and to re-enact the Copyright Act 2021 passed second reading in the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill was sponsored by Senator representing Lagos East, Tokunbo Abiru.

Presenting his lead debate, Senator Abiru said the existing Act which was promulgated twenty-two years ago was weak and has emaciated the creative industries such as Nollywood and broadcasting industry, the music industry, the fashion industry, the book publishing industry, the art industry, and Nigeria’s emerging software and Apps industry.

He expressed concern that failure to carry out a holistic review of existing legislation has been exploited by pirates leading to the death of actors and the disappearance of many thriving businesses in the creative industry.

“Many Nigerian businesses have disappeared and many Nigerian creators have died because of the harm occasioned by piracy and the weak mechanisms offered by the existing legal framework and successive government’s inability to sufficiently fund the Nigerian Copyright Commission.

“Time and again, stakeholders in the Nigerian copyright community have called for the amendment of the copyright law in line with new technologies and stipulate deterrent penalties but there has been no follow up action in terms of amendments to the Copyright Act 1988 which was promulgated in 1999, under the military regime and more than Twenty-Two (22) years ago. More significantly, the emergence of digital technologies revolutionized the creative economy as production and dissemination of creative works became more accessible and lent themselves to global exploitation beyond national boundaries.”

Citing Section 16 (1) (a), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which mandates government “to protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy,” Abiru expressed regret that that provisions of the Constitution was being observed in the breach.

“The passage of this Bill will give further credence to the Constitutional provisions quoted above. The contribution of Nigeria’s creative and innovative industries is significant. They offer employment, contribute to our GDP and serve as good brand ambassadors for Nigeria.

“The international community has acknowledged the quality Nigerian creative talents through international nominations and awards such as Oscars and Grammys. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria sometime back underscores the potentials of Nigeria’s software industries. Nigeria’s sports industry cannot grow if broadcast rights and other copyright and intellectual property rights are not promoted.

“Piracy of Nigerian creatives has devasted businesses, harmed consumers and acted as a disincentive to foreign direct investments,” he said.

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