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TACKLING BOOK PIRACY

By NBF News
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The call on the international community to prevail on China and Taiwan to adopt the Copyright Convention of the United Nations to save the nation's publishing industry from pirates is in order.

Managing Director of Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited, Lagos, Dr. Adesanya Adelekan, who spoke at a ceremony to herald the 8th Macmillan Literary Night, observed that pirates had turned Asian countries to a place where books are duplicated without inhibition, because of their permissive copyright laws.

He explained that efforts to curtail the activities of book pirates by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the nation's security agencies have been futile because the Asian countries have loose laws on copyright.

Perhaps, it is this lacuna in their copyright laws that make international pirates to feed on the works of publishers and authors to no end. According to Adelekan, 'piracy is the major challenge facing the book publishing industry in the country. Before, it was a local problem in Nigeria but it has assumed an international dimension.' Available statistics show that piracy is an international crime that contributes to 25 percent loss of revenue of publishing firms.

The alarm raised by Adelekan is real. Piracy is immoral and wicked. If nothing is done quickly to checkmate its frightening dimension in publishing, interest in writing and publishing will wane. This will seriously affect the education sector that is struggling for fresh air in terms of infrastructure, funding, staffing, and instructional materials.

Piracy should be seen as a heinous crime against intellectual property and their owners. Therefore, all countries should be part of the crusade to eliminate the menace. This can be done through the United Nations (UN) so that copyright laws would be respected by all member states. Let the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) be strengthened in its fight against piracy.

In view of the fact that piracy is unethical, the entire world has a duty in fighting it. The call by the Macmillan boss to fight this monster should be embraced by all countries to stop piracy from thriving. There should be dialogue between the Asian countries where these books are massively pirated and others that enforce their own copyright laws in order to share experiences and strategies to eliminate the scourge. We need this cooperation among nations to evolve far-reaching measures against the problem.

Piracy is, indeed, an international battle that should go beyond the frontiers of one country. Let Asian countries that have been identified as the bastion of the illegal trade do something to stop it in their domain. One way of doing this is to strengthen their copyright laws, which at present, are adjudged to be weak and ineffective.

It is disheartening that due to the permissive regulations in China and Taiwan, foreigners now collude with some unscrupulous Nigerians to pirate works of Nigerian publishers. Regrettably enough, most of these pirated works come out in inferior print, texture and aesthetics. In many of them, some pages are absent while some are blurred.

Often, popular works by renowned Nigerian writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, J.P. Clark, Cyprian Ekwensi, and others are pirated at will, thus denying these authors the revenue that should accrue to them from their intellectual property. This should not be allowed to continue. Piracy should be stopped to ensure that authors enjoy the full benefits of their published works.