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Assent to new Copyright Bill will address challenges in the Publishing Industry – Nigeria’s UN Rep assures Dr. Anioke, President, NPA

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nation’s Office at Geneva, Switzerland, H.E Ambassador Abiodun Richards Adejola has expressed the hope that President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the new Copyright bill will address several issues, including piracy, associated with Intellectual property (IP) in the country.

The UN Permanent Representative gave the assurance recently, when he received in audience, the President of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Dr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke, and the Secretary General of International Publishers Association (IPA), José Borghino, at the Nigeria’s Mission in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ambassador Adejola further stated that the domestication of any ratified International Treaty will involve procedures that will consider national peculiarities, as well as take into cognizance views and opinions of civil societies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Pressure groups.

He also gave the assurance that the Permanent Mission would continue to make wide consultations before taking decisions on matters of national concern.

The UN Permanent Representative appreciated the International Publishers Association (IPA) and Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA) for their resilience, despite the hurdles of piracy and absence of a clearly stated regulations to drive both the administration of creative industry and monitor saboteurs.

He said that Nigeria’s intervention in the Limitations and Exceptions (L&Es) Agenda Item 8 of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and related Rights (SCCR) forty-second session was only an obligation as member of the African bloc.

Introducing Dr. Anioke to the Permanent Representative , the IPA Secretary General, José Borghino, apart from appreciating Ambassador Adejola for the audience granted to IPA and NPA, informed him that there will be unintended consequences if the Exceptions and Limitations are pursued as a way to access protected content for free.

According to Mr Borghino, creative industries in Africa and in many other countries around the world which are struggling to survive due to the devastating effects of piracy will further be hardy hit.
In his words, “adding overbroad exceptions will take away what is left of the market, already devastated by piracy.”
In addition, Mr Borghino maintained, “if national Publishers can’t recoup their investments, they won’t be able to continue to produce and distribute national works by local authors or local textbooks to respond to children and students’ needs.”
This he said, will be “to the detriment of cultural diversity, education, preservation of national cultures and freedom of expression.”

Addressing the Permanent Representative, the NPA President, Dr. Uchenna Cyril Anioke, thanked the Ambassador for granting him audience within a short notice, describing Ambassador Adejola as a quintessential diplomat and worthy representative of Nigeria.

Dr. Anioke further informed Mr. Adejola that he was in Geneva, as a member of the IPA team to WIPO SCCR 42.

He used the opportunity to inform the Permanent Representative that he had on Tuesday, 10th May, 2022 addressed WIPO African Group on the need not to expand and broaden exceptions and limitations in the education sector of the publishing ecosystem in Nigeria.

The NPA President then appealed to Ambassador Adejola to use his good offices to lobby members of the African Group not to broaden the exceptions and limitations in the education sector.
Dr Anioke equally informed the Permanent Representative that the proposal by the WIPO African Group for overbroad exceptions and limitations will not be in tandem with the contents and spirit of the Amendment Copyright Bill before the National Assembly.

According to Dr Anioke, “What Nigerians and indeed African publishers need now is for the African Group to facilitate international book exchanges, encourage collaborations with the global publishing and tech giants; intervene in whichever way possible for foreign investors to invest in paper mills and above all, help African publishers to develop up-to-date capacities needed for sustainable publishing environment.”

“Conversely, what we do not need now and in the nearest future, is broadening exceptions and limitations in the education sector that would be damaging to the business model for educational publishers in Nigeria and Africa in general,” Anioke further stated.
Firmly, Dr Anioke concluded;
“For certain, broadening exceptions and limitations would therefore leave our students, teachers and educational system impoverished of local content, written by local authors and produced by local publishers.”

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