Nigeria’s vast creative industry extends beyond the realm of the Nollywood film industry and into music, publishing and media broadcasting. According to preliminary data, Nigeria’s copyright-based industries contribute as much as 1.2 trillion naira (US$7.5 billion) annually to the Nigerian economy.
Much growth potential in the creative industries is stifled by piracy. Given the economic growth potential and importance of creative development, the effective enforcement of a copyright regime is crucial to enabling the sustenance and future development of Nigeria’s creative industries. The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), the country’s primary regulatory and enforcement body for copyright, is charged with the task of deploying Nigeria’s zero-tolerance policy with respect to piracy.
Although the NCC has successfully reduced piracy with the assistance of the 2007 regulatory framework for registering and monitoring optical disc replicating plants, the digital and international sphere add layers of complexity. Nigerian Copyright Law is undergoing review to align it with current international standards that function to remedy the challenges that digital technologies pose. Suggested amendments include anti-circumvention measures, the criminalization of the manufacturing and distribution of circumvention devices and the unauthorized trafficking and alteration of such works.
Intellectual property can potentially generate wealth, alleviate poverty, create jobs and boost economic growth. Nigeria’s creative industries need the opportunity to flourish and artists require recognition and remuneration for works that make up such an important part of the cultural and social fabric. Copyright legislation in Nigeria is a work in progress and needs to adapt to accurately represent technological and international changes that have significant implications for rights holders.
Tracy Ayodele is a J.D Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School