Nigeria Prepares To Revamp Its Copyright System For The Digital Age 22/11/2015 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch 4 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Draft rules updating Nigeria’s copyright law regime are expected to be submitted to Parliament in 2016, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) Regulatory Department Head Michael Akpan has said. While the provisions have already been thoroughly vetted by stakeholders during consultations, several are likely to be challenged, he told Intellectual Property Watch. [Updated] The NCC is now seeking comment on the Draft Copyright Bill 2015 [pdf], following a “holistic review” of the country’s policy and legal copyright protection framework, which was last changed in 1988, the document said. Among the many significant developments leading to the rethink are the “paradigm shift in global trade” which is now more driven by knowledge-based products, and the emergence of digital technologies, it said. Key objectives of the reform are to reposition Nigeria’s creative industries for greater growth; strengthen their capacity to compete more effectively in the global marketplace; and enable Nigeria to meet its obligations under various international copyright instruments which the country has either ratified or intends to ratify. Among other things, the draft provisions set out which works are and are not eligible for copyright protection, and provide various exceptions. They cover issues of ownership, transfers and licences for protected works; set out penalties for infringements and provide for criminal liability for copyright offences. The draft bars circumvention of technological protection measures and alteration or falsification of electronic rights management information. The proposal contains provisions for issuing and carrying out take-down notices for infringing material, and for suspending the accounts of repeat infringers. It addresses internet service provider liability for copyright breaches and permits blocking of access to content in some cases. The draft bill also provides protections for performer’s and folklore rights. And it provides for the establishment and approval of collective management organisations, including extended collective management; and for levies for private copying. The comment period on the draft runs from 5 November 2015 to 5 January 2016, Akpan said. The responses will then be considered by a technical working group which will come up with a final document to be submitted to the government for transmission to Parliament, he said. “We expect that the processes leading up to the submission of the draft to the parliament should be concluded not later than the end of the third quarter of 2016,” though when lawmakers might act on it is unclear, he added. Asked whether the NCC expects any opposition to the draft bill, Akpan noted that the process leading up to its publication “witnessed a round of robust consultations with major stakeholders and relevant public institutions” whose major concerns are reflected in the language. Nevertheless, he said, the commission foresees challenges – although not from rights owners – to several provisions. Section 31 deals with compulsory licences for public interest, Akpan said. It aims to tackle certain “peculiar circumstances” where government intervention might be needed to curtail an abuse of monopolies or certain unfair practices, he said. Section 38(9), which creates criminal liability for failure to pay royalties, is intended to deter “flagrant” refusals to pay accrued royalties, particularly in the case of collectively managed rights, he said. Section 47, the provision on take-down of infringing content from a website, “may likely also invoke some comments especially from service providers,” Akpan emailed. “The same goes for the provision enabling the Commission to independently take down or disable links to such online resources.” [Update below:] Take-Down Rules Need Clarity Copyright reform is “long overdue,” said Adeboye Adegoke, program manager (ICT policy) for Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), an organisation that “connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities.” The bill will particularly benefit the entertainment and other creative industries, he said. But PIN has always believed that laws that touch on the online space “must not only be firm, they must at the same time be fair so as not to violate Internet rights of Nigerian citizen[s].” The provisions on notice for take-down and take-down of infringing content should be broadened to “clearly demonstrate” how service providers will access rights management information to determine if complainants have rights in the content and can request that it be taken down, said Adegoke. Infringement complaints should be addressed to the Copyright Commission to handle because letting individuals approach service providers for action is “subject to abuse by the powerful,” he said. Adegoke noted several cases where people’s social media accounts were taken down based solely on claims from other subscribers who didn’t like them. The bill must take the burden of deciding whether an infringement has taken place off service providers, he said. Image Credits: Nigerian Copyright Commission Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Dugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."Nigeria Prepares To Revamp Its Copyright System For The Digital Age" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.