Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has in the last four months, impounded products worth N22 million suspected to be pirated during various anti-piracy raids carried out across the country. Copyright Inspectors also arrested 27 suspected pirates during enforcement operations executed in four subsectors of the copyright industries, namely the publishing, software, broadcast and optical disc (music and movie) industries.
Director-General of NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude, who disclosed this in Abuja recently, also indicated that the commission, in consultation with stakeholders, would appoint public-spirited Nigerians as copyright marshalls.
Addressing a press conference on the state of copyright administration and enforcement in Nigeria, the director-general remarked that the objective was to enable the copyright marshals to provide copyright inspectors with robust intelligence gathering on the activities of pirates, piracy syndicates and their mode of operation.
He said that the commission was exploring avenues of collaboration with the World Customs Organisation and countries in the West African sub-region for intelligence sharing and cross-border enforcement to check the international trafficking of pirated products across Nigerian borders.
The commission, he added, would also partner sister local enforcement agencies, including Nigeria Customs Service and other copyright stakeholders in its campaign for effective copyright protection, awareness generation and zero tolerance of piracy of protected works in the country.
The director-general stated that the total value of optical discs seizures - CDs, VCDs and DVDs - since January is about N13, 291,300, while 13 suspected pirates were arrested during enforcement actions in Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Markurdi, Onitsha and Aba.
Mr. Ezekude revealed that nine suspected broadcast pirates were arrested during the period while a total of N3,401,000 estimated value of seizures was effected during four separate anti-piracy raids in the broadcast industry.
He disclosed that in the publishing industry, one suspected book pirate, Lawrence Obinna, was arrested on March 8, 2011 during a raid in Sabon Gari Market, Kano, while an estimated N3.3 million worth of 6,062 infringing books of various titles, authors and publishers were confiscated.
According to him, five suspected software pirates were arrested and a total of N1,831,000 estimated value of infringing software products were impounded during three different raids in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja between February and March this year.
The director-general remarked that the commission has been proactive in its prosecution thrusts, adding that it has secured six judgements in the last five months while about 49 civil and criminal cases are currently being prosecuted in Federal High Courts across the country.
He said the commission was set to file six new criminal cases on which the Enforcement Department just concluded investigations. He noted that two of the case files arose from the arrest of a major importer/producer of pirated literary works based in Kano State while the other four cases bothered on broadcast piracy across the Benin, Sapele and Asaba areas.
The director-general identified the Copyright Notification Scheme - Copyright Optical Discs Regulations 2006 and the Copyright Collective Management Organisations Regulations 2007 - as the three functional administrative and regulatory schemes of the commission.
On Copyright Notification Scheme, he informed that the commission has received a total of 6,292 applications under the scheme and has so far issued 5,332 Copyright Notification Certificates nationwide.
He noted that though copyright, under the Berne Convention to which Nigeria is signatory is non-registrable, the commission initiated the Copyright Notification Scheme in 2005 as a databank of authors and copyright works.
The director-general said since the commencement of implementation of the Optical Discs Regulation (ODR) in November 2007, the commission has registered a total of 14 Replicating Plants engaged in local production of regulated products like CDs, VCDs and DVDs.
The registered plants are: CVL Technology Ltd; Super Audio Industries Ltd; Alfa Magnetics Industries Ltd; Media Pro & Global Services Ltd; Nasima Universal Studios; Hope Rising Industries and Sky Media Production Ltd.
Others are Dallah Music Nig. Ltd (Akina); Ecomax Media Technology Ltd; Nira Audiovisual Ltd; Chronotech Nig. Company Ltd; Transerve Discs Technology Ltd; Magnet Integrated Ventures Ltd; and Quartz Digital Ltd.
Similarly, five mastering plants have been registered, namely Moorpark Industries Ltd; Innotech Industries Ltd.; Infobright Master Technology Ltd.; De Mastering Industries Ltd.; and Ecomax Media Technologies.
He stated that in collaboration with the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), the Commission has initiated the Source Identification (SID) code which, effective from January 2010, must be mandatorily used by all replicating and mastering plants in Nigeria as a security finger print at production point. This enhances the commission's antipiracy intervention.
The director-general indicated that the commission recently carried out compliance inspection on all the replicating and mastering plants on 31st March and 1st April 2011 in Lagos. The exercise, he added, enabled the commission to ascertain the state of operations and level of compliance or default of the plants with regulatory requirements.