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I Will Never Stop Asking For The Private Copy Levy—Okoroji

By COSON COSON
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The Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji has said that he will never stop asking the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to activate the Private Copy Levy until the scheme becomes a reality in Nigeria.

Speaking to some journalists at the COSON Headquarters in Ikeja during the week, Chief Okoroji said, “We are in a democracy. Government cannot see everything. It is our duty to draw the attention of the government to those actions that will result in the progress of the nation and the well-being of the people. Unknown to many, the Private Copy Levy has been law in Nigeria for many years but the law has never been used.

The enabling order has also long been made by the Attorney General of the Federation and published in the Federal Gazette. We have told the Minister of Information & Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed that at a time when we need to stimulate and fire-up every aspect of our economy, the government must take immediate steps to activate the Private Copy Levy so as to give impetus to Nigeria’s creative industries”

Chief Okoroji’s says that it will be a betrayal of the hard working people in the music, movie and literary industries if he stopped raising his voice for the good of the creative sector in Nigeria. Said the COSON Chairman, “I do not care what anybody says. I am not a ‘Johnny Just Come’ to these issues. I have dedicated much of my life promoting the cause of Africa’s creative industries. When I began to raise the issues of Intellectual Property, I was practically a voice in the wilderness. Today, everyone knows that without respect for Intellectual Property rights, Nigeria will be a pariah nation.

I was at the just held AMVCA and a prominent Nigerian said to me, ‘you started this revolution with the Nigerian Music Awards’. Whether it is piracy or collective management, I have continuously urged nations in our continent to make progress or be left behind. I verily believe that without addressing the rampant private copy situation, Nigeria will not be able to attract the necessary foreign and domestic investments to make the music, movie and literary industries viable and provide the right environment to create the hundreds of thousands of jobs possible in these industries. I want to emphasize that I will never stop asking for the Private Copy Levy until it becomes reality in Nigeria”

As digital technology has grown, a lot of people do not anymore access their music or movies by buying music cassettes, CDs or DVDs. They obtain them using down loads, blue-tooth and file sharing for free and owners of these works are denied significant revenue and the industries suffer immeasurably.

To compensate the creators and investors in music, movies and literary works for this huge loss which threatens the survival of the creative industries, in many countries around the world, a small levy is charged on the gadgets used for this stealing of intellectual property. The money collected from the levy of such gadgets such as MP3s, MP4s, cellphones, memory cards, flash drives, etc, is paid to the artistes, writers and producers whose music, movies and books are stolen.

About 23 years ago, Nigeria became the first country in Africa to provide for the levy in its laws. Sadly, since then, Nigeria has not implemented the scheme due to the suffocating bureaucracy in the country. The situation has made several international and domestic investors to flee the country draining the nation of massive revenue, employment and growth.