Why Copyright owners must help Govt fight piracy – NCC

In its resolve to reduce piracy of intellectual properties to the barest minimum, the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), recently carried out raids in Lagos, seizing pirated works worth over N10million. Chris .O. Nkwocha, Deputy Director and Zonal Manager, Lagos said the commission through its enforcement officers stormed the popular Alaba International market in Lagos early this month to apprehend pirates who have refused to stop illegal reproduction and sales of creative works.

Nkwocha who was joined by Matthew Ade Ojo, Assistant Director, Enforcement and Lynda Alpheaus, Assistant Director, Prosecution, hinted that the Director General of the NCC, Mr Afam Ezekude actually directed the raid as a way of re-emphasising the determination of the commission to eradicate the crime. Besides, a decision was taken to take the anti-piracy war to the doorsteps of the pirates, whose market has over the years been a notorious haven of piracy. As a result, the commission sought the support of stakeholders in the copyright community in order to execute and sustain the war.

As a demonstration of its commitment to piracy eradication, Nkwocha said NCC has secured, in the last few months, seven convictions from different courts in Lagos, Osogbo and Benin, all of which were obtained in respect of accused persons who were involved in the piracy of software, books, musical works and films. In addition to these, the commission promised to prosecute all those who are arrested for piracy, in order to serve as deterrent for prospective pirates.

While bemoaning lack of support from some stakeholders, Nkwocha said time has come for copyright owners to rally round government in the fight against piracy. He noted that the NCC needs all the information it can get to be able to apprehend and prosecute persons who are guilty of copyright infringement. Thereafter the NCC officials displayed some of the seized works, including the machines which pirates use to reproduce the works. Among the pirated DVDs and CDs were Figurine, Eruku Nla, Ayelaboyun Meta, Agolo, Jo Kin njo 1&2, Posi Wura, Aloba 1&2, Awo Funfun as well as evergreen records by Ebenezer Obey and the late Ayinde Barrister.

Explaining the constraints of the commission in its bid to combat piracy, Ade Ojo disclosed that limited personnel , inadequate funding as well as free and uncontrolled use of the Internet have hampered the commission’s efforts. He hinted that while technology has helped mankind in solving most of his problems, it has equally aided copyright infringement and thereby contributing to impoverishment of the true owners of intellectual works. Also in attendance at the unveiling of the seized works were representatives of the Music Label Owners Association of Nigeria and Yoruba Video Film Marketers Producers Association of Nigeria. They include Mr Adeboye Jonathan, Mr Sola Awoyele and Prince Kunle Owoade.
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