The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is to present three bills to the National Assembly in its effort to re-position the Creative Industry for optimal performance through legislative and regulatory framework.
The Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday when he received some officials of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) on a courtesy visit to his office.
“We are putting three bills before the National Assembly. The first is the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the second is MOPICON (Motion Picture Council of Nigeria) because we believe that we must create that enabling environment for the creative industry and the third is the bill for the Establishment of the Tourism Development Fund,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the current situation under which artists access funds at high interest rates for their production is not encouraging, and that the enactment of the NEA will open new vista of opportunity for players in the industry to access funds that will enhance their performance.
He said MOPICON, on the other hand, will provide a self-regulatory framework to guide and standardize the activities of the nation’s movie industry, while the Tourism Development Fund will help in providing funds for training and project development, among others
The Minister identified piracy as the biggest challenge facing the creative industry and advised COSON to partner with other stakeholders in the industry to form a Task Force that will work along with the government to check the menace of pirates.
On the issue of payment of royalty on music being played by government-owned broadcast stations, the Minister insisted that the existing agreement between COSON and the broadcasters should be respected for the mutual benefit of both parties.
The Minister acknowledged that the Private Copy Levy is a veritable instrument that will guard against the infringement of intellectual property right but emphasized that the law has to be reviewed to conform with current realities.
“Yes, it is correct that Section 28 of the Law provides for it. You are also right to say that in Year 2012, the Attorney General actually signed the document but unfortunately there are issues that we all need to sit down together to resolve before the Private Copy Levy Law
can even be implemented. One which we all agreed is that when this law was signed, the level of technology is not what it is today. If you want to implement that law, you are going to run into a lot of challenges.
“My advice is that we should look at that law and see whether we are going to amend it to take care of the challenges of technology, otherwise we will not be able to implement it,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said his ministry and that of Justice, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion as well as COSON need to come together and take a second look at the Private Copy Levy with a view to operationalizing the law in line with current realities.
He said COSON also needs to engage with the telecommunications companies to agree on how the two parties can mutually benefit from the intellectual property of the musicians being used by the companies.
The Minister restated the commitment of the present administration to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the Creative Industry becomes a viable economy, saying the future of Nigeria is in the Creative Industry and not in commodities.
In his remarks, COSON President Tony Okoroji hailed the Minister for being a quintessential public servant and expressed confidence in the present administration’s political will to implement policies that will protect the intellectual property of the artists.
He said COSON is on an advocacy to put value to Nigeria’s music in view of the widespread infringement on intellectual property right by broadcast stations, telecommunications companies and online platforms.
Chief Okoroji stressed the need to put in place a regulatory framework that will utilize music to create wealth for the nation, particularly the implementation of the Private Copy Levy.
Also at the meeting were the Directors General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mr Kawu Modibbo; Nigerian Television Authority, Mallam Yakub Ibn Mohammed and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Mansur Liman.