- A case for Multiple Collecting Societies for the Nigerian Entertainment Industry
- Trademark News
- Standards Organisation of Nigeria
- Anti-counterfeiting Collaboration, Nigeria
- National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) unveils New Anti-Counterfeiting Service.
- The Aluko & Oyebode’s Bankole Olumide Aluk (BOA) Football Tournament Kicks Off
A CASE FOR MULTIPLE COLLECTING SOCIETIES FOR THE NIGERIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
The Nigerian Entertainment Industry has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. Its story did not just start; its development has spanned decades. From the early days of shooting movies with analog cameras and the introduction of celluloid, the Nigerian movie industry had recorded some success. So also has the music industry. Nigerian music and music videos enjoy quality play on both home and foreign media airwaves.
Although there is no data to verify its growth, but over the years the Nigerian Entertainment Industry has recorded unprecedented growth in gross revenue since the last decade. According to a writer, it must have grossed billions of Naira (hundreds of millions in United States Dollars) despite low professionalism in its operations, piracy and lack of adequate data.
Piracy is one big problem militating against the Nigerian entertainment industry. This has eaten deep into the industry and stunted its growth. Although, the industry has been ranked third after the United States’ Hollywood and India’s Bollywood, the Nigeria’s entertainment hub is not specific. Some have argued it is Lagos, in Surulere to be precise, while others believe it is Enugu, South East Nigeria and environs where most of the home videos are shot and produced for marketing in the Alaba Market of Lagos. Due to the dearth of professionalism and inadequate data, the industry has lost so much to piracy and other militating factors.
The artistes have borne the brunt of this development the most. After investing so much into producing their music, there are few or nothing to show for it in terms of returns on investment. The organisation structure of the industry is defective, to say the least. It is apparent that many of our musicians, producers and movie artists enjoy huge success in their popularity and fan base; however they cannot in any way be compared with their counterparts in Hollywood and Europe. Many of them live in penury and are left with financial support from colleagues and corporate entities in terms of endorsements.
The need to have a solid collective licensing structure in place, in view of these developments is no doubt ripe. Section 39 of the Nigeria Copyright Act, Cap C24, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, provides for the establishment of a collecting society to represent the interest of artistes and collect royalties on their behalf. In spite of this laudable provision, the operations of the collecting societies have been slowed down by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
History is not far from us. There were two collecting societies in Nigeria namely: Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN). Both collecting societies were duly licensed by the NCC about a decade ago, to operate and collect royalties on behalf of their members. However, recently the Director-General of the NCC said in a newspaper report that the collecting societies were operating illegally because no such licenses were issued in the first place. This, of course, opened floodgate of litigation between the societies and the NCC. Presently, the NCC has instituted a criminal action against MSCN for operating illegally.
Like the proverbial two elephants fighting, the artistes have suffered the consequences of these developments. A blogger once wrote that according to a Nigerian superstar, D’banj while speaking to the House Committee on Information and National Orientation, over USD30,000 are being held by MTV in an escrow account as royalties to Nigerian artistes but there is no collecting society in place.
Recently, the NCC decided to issue licences to Collective Management Organisation (CMO); another way of describing the Collecting Societies. But in order to avoid the intrigues and controversies that plagued the formerly licensed collecting societies, there has been a debate on whether to license only one or have more than one collecting society. In my opinion, the more the merrier if we have more than one collecting society. We should borrow a leaf from the United States of America which has about three main collecting societies (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC). In the United Kingdom there are over twenty collecting societies spread over different genres of intellectual property. So also is the practice in Brazil where there are many collecting societies including those representing newspaper writers and authors, literary artists and many more! We run the risk of producing a monopoly where we have just one collecting society and this may not aid fair competition among industry practitioners. The monopoly formerly enjoyed by PMRS created an unhealthy rivalry with the MCSN. This, I believe can be avoided if the NCC can licence as many organisations who meet the criteria to operate as collecting societies as required by the Copyright Act and subsidiary regulations.
There are no doubt many opportunities in place for the collecting societies and the artistes. If there are multiple as against sole collecting society, artistes can make their own choice. Apart from this, there will be extensive collaboration between Nigerian Artistes and their foreign counterparts since the latter are rest assured of their royalties. Keep in mind that the respective collecting societies in different countries do interface on behalf of their members for the purpose of collecting their royalties all over the world.
NCC, in this instance, will only act to ensure that adequate facilities and professionalism are put in place for the effective operation of the collecting societies. The lawyers have a huge role to play in this. So also are the artistes and the administrators of the collecting societies. NCC should not do more than overseeing the operation of the collecting societies particularly making sure that their operations comply with the requisite laws and regulations.
As we earlier reported in the December Newsletter, the timeline for opposition to the published trade mark applications in the Trade Mark Journal, No. 2 Vol. 4, ended on Monday, 8 February 2010 after the expiration of statutory period of 2 months. The Registry will soon convene hearing of several oppositions towards determining whether a trade mark application should be issued a certificate of registration or such application should be denied. The Trade Mark Registry is also in the process of publishing another edition of its Journal for all pending trade mark applications.
Moreover, activities at the Trademark Registry have been at a slow pace in recent times. This is due to the planned relocation of the registry from their former facility to a new one. Presently, files are being moved from the old facility to the new one.
STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is the government agency responsible for setting and maintaining standards for products imported into and manufactured in Nigeria. The Agency in January, 2010 convened a conference in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. At the conference, the Director General of SON, Mr. John Akanya took the participants through the achievements of the Agency through the past two years most especially in creation of new standards and improving on the existing ones. The Agency recently created about 133 additional standards including; 37 Chemical Technology Standards, 26 Food Technology Standards, 11 Leather Technology Standards, 51 Mechanical Engineering Standards and 8 Textile Technology Standards. Last year, the SON also initiated an Agreement to be in place between the governments of China and Nigeria towards ensuring that adequate standards are met in regard of products being imported into Nigeria from China.
In order to consolidate on its achievement in the last two years, the Agency has reiterated its commitment towards ensuring that the Agreement, which it initiated, in respect of trade relations between the Governments of China and Nigeria is signed this year. Also in the year 2010, the Agency is set to ensure that there is improved implementation of its Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP). As a step further, SON is set to ensure greater implementation of the Manufacturers Conformity Assessment Program (MANCAP). These are parts of the Agency’s activities towards ensuring quality assurance, best practices and globally acceptable standards of all products in the Nigerian market. The Agency has also reassured all brand owners and stakeholders that it still maintains its zero tolerance and shall prosecute perpetrators of sub-standard goods, particularly in its importation, manufacture, distribution and sales.
ANTI-COUNTERFEITING COLLABORATION, NIGERIA
The Anti-Counterfeiting Collaboration (ACC), Nigeria recently convened its monthly meeting on 24 February 2010 at the offices of Aluko & Oyebode. The meeting had in full attendance stakeholders in the manufacturing sector, printing and minting, regulatory agencies, law firms and brand owners. The Collaboration is set to kick-start its Television Programme tagged: “Light Fingers”. This is posed towards the dissemination of information on the ills and negative effects of counterfeiting, piracy and infringement of trademarks and brands. It is also aimed at ensuring that quality assurance of products is maintained in the Nigerian market.
NATIONAL AGENCY FOR FOOD, DRUGS, ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL (NAFDAC) UNVEILS NEW ANTI-COUNTERFEITING SERVICE
The National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently unveiled a Mobile Anti-Counterfeit System (MAS). This system was introduced, in collaboration with an indigenous pharmaceutical company, BIOFEM. The system is a service which operates on the Global System Mobile (GSM) which is introduced as part of measures to minimize incidence of drugs counterfeiting in Nigeria. This service was first introduced by a United State Company, Sproxil Incorporated. The Nigerian subsidiary of Sproxil Incorporated is partnering with NAFDAC and BIOFEM in this regard.
The service works on a short messaging service (SMS) through a short-code ‘38353’ on the major mobile service operators in Nigeria. Illustrating the way this service works, the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii explained that upon purchase of a drug, a consumer can confirm whether the drug is genuine by simply sending text from the 12 digits scratch numbers on the drug through the short-code and immediately, a SMS response will be received indicating the genuineness or otherwise of the drug. This service was test-run on a diabetes drug, Diacophage.
This service, which is at no cost to the customer, is an attempt to consolidate on the fight against piracy and counterfeiting of drugs in Nigeria. Although the service is not available for all drugs in the country yet, it is believed that over time, the service will be extended to other drugs. This service is also aimed to assist the agency to detect any pharmacy selling counterfeit drug, since the consumer could easily alert the NAFDAC to swing into action.
THE ALUKO & OYEBODE’S BANKOLE OLUMIDE ALUKO (BOA) FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT KICKS OFF
The annual Bankole Olumide Aluko (BOA) Football Tournament kicked off on 28 February 2010 at the prestigious Astro Turf 2000, Ikoyi, Lagos. The Tournament is a five-aside football competition among top law firms and friends of Aluko & Oyebode, in Lagos.
The event kicked off with the opening ceremony. Afterwards, the Aluko & Oyebode team slugged it out with the Babalakin & Co. Team. The match ended 1 – 0 in favour of the Aluko & Oyebode Team. Other teams which played include: Banwo & Ighodalo, Olisa Agbakoba & Associates, Aelex Solictors, Consolex and Strachan, Animashaun and Animashaun amongst others. The Tournament will run for nine weeks from which a winner will emerge with a Trophy.