By NBF News
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TO further drive the goal of curtailing the activities of pirates in the country, the Director General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. Afam Ezekude has said that conducting regular unscheduled checks on places of production of copyright materials like optical disc plants will be one of the hallmarks of his administration.

According to Ezekude, the commission under his watch, will act proactively and will not wait until the problem becomes a monster before he takes actions.

And for better collaboration in order to make the fight against piracy a fruitful one, the NCC chief called on copyright owners to be vigilant and report any plant that manufactures their works without due authorisation, assuring them that he will take decisive and prompt action against any of such plants.

'We will not tolerate anyone impoverishing the Nigerian creator. Be it a human person or a company. Piracy is an economic crime and it is my primary duty to ensure that anyone who engages in it is caught and prosecuted. That I am determined to do.' he stated.

He also enjoined right owners and citizens in general to assist the commission by informing its officers of any plant operating clandestinely without being registered by the commission.

Indeed, the Nigerian Copyright Commission Copyright Inspectors had begun the raids. Between December 29 and 30, they carried out night and daytime unscheduled inspections on 14 registered optical disc plants and 5 mastering plants in the country.

The exercise, was in line with Ezekude's directive who, since his assumption of office early last month, has demonstrated deep grasp of the nexus between protection of copyright and national development.

In fact, he has consistently pledged to relentlessly monitor the activities of optical disc plants in order to make it difficult for anyone to engage in illegal exploitation of copyright protected works in the country.

And in a renewed resolve to attack the main source of pirated optical discs, he had directed that unscheduled inspections of all the plants must be conducted at odd hours and during the yuletide season when such inspections would be least expected as the enforcement actions sought to determine the level of plants' compliance with the Copyright (Optical Disc Plants) Regulation.

In a release by the Technical Adviser, Enforcement, Akeem Aponmade, made available to The Guardian, the commission revealed that since the take-off of the regulation, the commission has conducted a number of unscheduled inspections at the plants. On such occasions, a couple of plants had been found to have violated the regulation and a punitive action taken against them.

It also stated that by virtue of the regulation, it is an offence for an optical disc plant to manufacture an optical disc, be it CD, VCD or DVD, if not registered by the commission. The Source Identification Code scheme is one of the initiatives of the legislation and it is mandatory under the regulation for every mould used in the replication of optical discs to be inscribed with a Manufacturer's code automatically ensuring that all discs coming from the mould bear the code allocated by the commission to that mould.

It would be recalled that the Mastering plants were equally allocated Laser Beam Recorders (LBR), which like the Manufacturer's code, must appear on all stampers (masters) produced by these companies.

The SID process has actually been used in a number of countries to trace pirated optical discs to their sources. It is now available in Nigeria to aid in tracing any pirated disc found in Nigeria or anywhere in the world not only to the plant but even to the particular mould of the plant which manufactured the infringing disc.

With regards to the exercise just conducted, the statement said that Ezekude expressed his satisfaction with the current level of compliance in the replicating industry and has called on the plants to keep it up.

As he puts it: 'The replicating industry is a multi-million naira enterprise that is employing hundreds of Nigerians and contributing immensely to our country's economy. We do not believe that everyone in that industry is a pirate. The Nigerian Copyright Commission has a duty to ensure that the environment does not exist at all where a plant will manufacture the works of Nigerian authors without their consent. We intend to take that duty very seriously.'