Veteran actress, Kate Henshaw and ace filmmaker, Omoni Oboli, have urged the Federal Government to accelerate the fight against piracy to enable the creative sector to contribute more to the country’s economy.
According to NobleReporters, Henshaw, and Oboli both gave the charge during a panel discussion in a teleconference (Webinar), on Tuesday evening.
The teleconference was organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
It was to commemorate ‘the entry into force’ of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, adopted on June 24, 2012.
The event was titled: “Strengthening Nigeria’s Creative Sector through Improved Rights for Artistes and Performers.”
The teleconference, moderated by Ms. Chijioke Okorie, Lead Advisor, Penguide Advisory, brought together top officers of the NCC, representatives of WIPO, and stakeholders in the Nigerian creative sector.
Participants also explored the significance of the Beijing treaty and engaged in discussions and awareness-raising, on the significance of the new rights enshrined in the treaty for the creative industry.
According to Oboli, it is expedient that the Federal Government take urgent steps towards effectively addressing emerging copyright infringements, particularly at this digital age.
She said as Nigeria sought the diversification of its economy, the creative sector was a major source of revenue, only if the opportunities that abound there were harnessed through enabling environment.
The filmmaker said piracy remained a major setback to the growth of the motion picture industry and therefore called for concerted efforts to fight the menace.
“This is a sector that can stop Nigeria from going into recession as oil has failed, but the government needs to protect it.
“Piracy is our major problem because if my rights are abused as a producer, I am not going to give my best while the pirates make the bulk of money.
“We are doing better than before, but we are not making enough money from our works because the current copyright laws do not capture the digital platforms.
“Almost every week, I have to write YouTube to take my movie down; unfortunately, most of these movies are yet to be released, but they are already available online for free.
“This treaty is great, and if it is signed into law, the producers and all stakeholders will be happy,” Oboli said.
Henshaw, on her part, said that the Beijing Treaty was a timely intervention for the creative sector, and therefore commended the NCC for championing its enforcement.
“This is a treaty that its time has come because we have waited so long for an efficient intellectual property right management system.
“We need this law to go to the National Assembly as soon as possible, and we also urge the Judiciary to effectively do its part,” the veteran actress said.
In his remark, John Asein, NCC Director-General, said webinar was to provide initial thoughts on how the balanced application of provisions of the treaty will benefit Nigeria’s audiovisual sector.
He said that Nigeria had already taken steps to domesticate the provisions of the treaty as part of broader reforms of its copyright system.
“Nigeria film industry ranks amongst the top three globally, and this ranking should translate to economic benefits and enhanced status for performers who stand before lights and cameras transforming scripts to action.
“The commission is particularly concerned about the loss of revenue in the audiovisual industry.
“It will be working with the guilds, associations and collective management organisations in this area, to develop appropriate mechanisms to ensure greater returns on creative investments.
“This might also require looking into various aspects of the industry, including engagement contracts, distribution bottlenecks, online abuses, and rights management issues,” he said.
Other stakeholders at the event included Mr Oluwatobiloba Moody, Programme Officer, WIPO Nigeria Office, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Chairman, Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria and Ms. Carole Croella, Senior Counsellor, Copyright Law Division, WIPO.
The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances, held in the Chinese capital between June 20 and June 26, 2012.
The treaty encompasses performances of actors in different media, film and television, and also includes musicians when their musical performances are recorded on a DVD or any other audiovisual platform.
It is opened to states members of WIPO and to the European Union, and grants performers economic rights in fixed and unfixed performances, as well as certain moral rights.
The Beijing Treaty was supposed to enter into force three months after 30 eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession with the Director-General of WIPO.
It, however, took about eight years for it to come into force, as the required number of 30 states was only achieved in January 2020.