SID Code...Copyright Commission steps up campaign against piracy

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THE hand of the clock is fast ticking against pirates, their cronies and their activities. And with the launch and public presentation of Source Identification (SID) Code by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in Lagos, last week, the much-awaited succour for the creators of intellectual properties to enjoy the fruits of their labour may have finally arrived.

The activities of pirates have continued to make copyright owners live in penury. Efforts at tackling this menace gave birth to different programmes the most recent of which is the Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP) launched a few years back by NCC.

At the SID Code launch, stakeholders underscored the negative consequences of pirates' activities on the nation's economy. They however premised the success of the anti-piracy war on commitment and total support from all stakeholders.

They were also of the opinion that with the launch of the SID code, a right step had been taken to fight the pirates from the production stage, which they believed would boost the anti-piracy drive.

The Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, who was the Chairman of the event, commended the NCC over its anti-piracy pursuit with the launch of the code, calling on all stakeholders to renew their commitment on the fight to eradicate piracy.

Okiro who was represented by Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, Mr. Saba Moses said, "the adoption of the Source Identification Code for optical discs embodying copyright works is a major tool of fighting piracy. The device, to my knowledge, has been a standard practice in the phonogram producing industry worldwide. Nigeria is a major player in the entertainment industry and can claim a fair share of the interest in terms of global output of entertainment product. Our music and film industries have become popular brands, which attract global attention. The need to accord these products protection against abuses in the market place cannot be overemphasised.

"The new initiative of the commission has therefore come at the right time. It is an opportunity for all stakeholders to renew their commitment on the fight to eradicate piracy. The fight against piracy must be made a collective effort involving all strata of the Nigerian society if it is to succeed. The creators have a fundamental role to play, as much as those who are involved in the production and dissemination of creative works. They must be willing and ready to insist on their rights. This will, to a large extent, depend on how well informed they are of their rights and how it could be protected. In this way, they could effectively utilise all the facilities put in place by different government agencies, particularly the Nigerian Copyright Commission, to assist them".

Pledging on behalf of The Nigeria Police, Okiro promised, would ensure that the anti-piracy drive succeeds. His words: "As always, the Nigeria Police will continue to partner with the Nigerian Copyright Commission to ensure that its anti-piracy campaign is made more effective and successful".

Commenting on why all stakeholders must be committed to the anti-piracy quest, he said, "you will agree that the task of eradicating piracy is not an easy one, and indeed, the new regulatory measure adopted by the NCC will pose an additional challenge to the commission. I therefore urge all stakeholders, members of the media, the general public and particularly operators of the optical discs plants to extend cooperation to the commission to enable it achieve its goal. It is only by doing so that we can hope to change the face of despair currently characterising the creative industry, to hope and accomplishment".

The Director General of the NCC, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, who stated that the eradication of piracy empires is his goal, disclosed that the steps to regulate the activities of operators of Optical Disc Plants started in 2006, when "the commission issued the Copyright (Optical Disc Plants) Regulation as a means of addressing the issue of piracy from the point of production. The regulation makes it mandatory for all persons involved in the business of optical discs manufacture or replication to be duly registered with the commission. The underlying rationale for issuance of the regulation is the belief of the commission that addressing piracy from the point of production will significantly reduce the challenge of piracy. In a bid to ensure strict compliance with international best practices, the regulation among others, provided for the prescription of anti-piracy devices, including the use of manufacturer's code. The commission may, after giving due notice, require the application of Source Identification (SID) code or any other prescribed anti-piracy device on every optical disc produced in Nigeria.

"At the inception of the implementation of the regulation, the commission merely required the use of personal Identification Numbers (PIN) by every registered plant on every optical discs produced by it. It was later observed that the PIN did not offer full proof tracking option that is necessary and desirable to curb piracy both within and outside our borders. Consequently, the commission, after due consultation with industry stakeholders, resolved to adopt the IFPI/Philips Source Identification Code. The prescription of the SID code is another milestone in the many stages of implementation of the Optical Discs Plants regulation since its introduction a little over two years ago. Indeed, the regulation has since that time thrown up several challenges, technical, regulatory and enforcement, in its practical implementation by which the commission has had to grapple with in its bid to address the problem of optical disc piracy, which by all means, accounts for a significant share of the level of piracy in Nigeria".

Explaining the SID code format and how it will be applied, Adewopo revealed, "The Source Identification Code is made up of characters which may be numeric or alphabets, identifying the registered number of the Laser Beam Recorded (LBR) used in making the stamper or the glass master or a registered number of the mould used to press the disc. It was introduced in the mid 90s and has been proved as a useful tool in tracking and tracing the source of optical discs mastering and replications. The usefulness of this code cannot be overemphasised considering the ever increasing competitive business environment where plants are eager to assure their customers of an entrenched system guaranteeing the protection of their Intellectual Property Rights.

"The use of SID code on all optical discs is not a voluntary requirement but a mandatory one. It is expected that this new initiative will usher in a regime of transparency and best practice, and guaranty higher protection level for all copyright works produced on optical discs in Nigeria.

Adewopo promised members of the Optical Disc Replicators Association of Nigeria (ODRAN) the commission's support in providing an enabling environment. "I wish to reassure the Optical Disc Replicators Association of Nigeria (ODRAN) of the Commission's continued commitment to creating an enabling environment for the smooth operation of your business. As you may know, the purpose of introducing the code is not to stifle your businesses; rather, it is to create for you a robust platform for enhanced business practice and opportunities in the huge market that Nigeria provides," he said

According to him, "the commission owes a duty to all intellectual property right owners to create a platform that will ensure the protection of their rights. This identification mechanism provides a transparent system where legitimate works can be easily identified and separated from illegal copies; and allows plants with sound operational records to carry out their business without fear. I must state categorically that the commission is committed to the success of the replicating business in Nigeria, which must be done within internationally accepted standards. The eradication of piracy is our ultimate goal and the commission would stop at nothing in actualising this goal".

Adewopo however assured the optical disc operators that the policy would not take immediate effect because "we are aware that optical discs plants require sometime to comply with this new prescription because of the need to adapt their machines and equipments to apply the code appropriately.

"Accordingly, a deadline of December 31, 2009 is hereby set for all registered plants and mastering facilities to comply with the prescription. It is expected that by 1st of January, 2010, all optical discs produced in Nigeria will carry both the Mould SID code as well as the Laser Beam Recorder Codes".

He warned that, "any discs not so marked will be deemed to be originating from an illegal source and therefore not legitimate copies. It is pertinent to also remind operators of plants that Optical Discs Plants Regulation imposes sanctions for non-compliance with prescriptions made by the commission pursuant to its powers under the Regulation.

"The commission shall not hesitate to invoke these provisions on errant plants. Such sanctions, for avoidance of doubt, may include withdrawal of operating license where it is found to be in the overall public interest.

"We are equally not unmindful of possible attempts by unscrupulous persons to undermine the scheme through falsification of the SID code. I wish to warn such persons on the consequences of such criminal activity, which as you may know, attracts severe punishment under law.

"Those operating unregistered optical discs plants and especially those who are using computerised operations to duplicate copyright works are advised to desist from such practice and to take steps to regularise their operations within the purview of the optical discs regulations".

Speaking on the negative effect of piracy, he observed, "you will all agree that piracy is a major destroyer of the creative industry and the economy. The commission's efforts to contain the problem of piracy in the last three years of its Strategic Action against Piracy initiative are beginning to yield positive results".

"We therefore urge all sectors of the copyright community; law enforcement agencies; the general public; and indeed our primary allies in the implementation of the optical discs plants regulations to join hands with the commission in ensuring the success of this new scheme.

"Protecting creativity is our goal and our minimum contribution towards the current effort to re-brand Nigeria", he stated.

On behalf of his members, the Chairman of the Optical Disc Replicators Association of Nigeria (ODRAN), Pastor Cyprian Orakpo pledged his association's support to the commission in all its policies and programmes especially towards the implementation and adoption of the SID code.

"As an association, we support all the efforts of the commission in ridding the country of the incessant scourges of piracy as enunciated in Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP). Since January 2009, we have had three seminars where we interacted with the commission and intellectual property community on ways of curbing the menace of intellectual property theft.

"It is true that the adaptation of SID code by the OD plants will go a long way in entrenching industry best practice in all the plants. May I however use this opportunity to say that it is not a one-fix-it-all solution! Intellectual property theft as we all know is a hydra headed monster that must be fought from all sides- supply, demand, intellectual property owners and finally the commission and other government agencies such as Nigerian Custom Service and Nigerian Police Force", Orakpo observed.

He later implored the commission to: "create a level playing field for all the replicating plants by shutting down all unregistered OD plants in Nigeria even if they have applied, they should not start operation until given a license; reduce the time it takes the intellectual property owners to process the NCC Notification Certificate to 72 hours as some of our customers complain that it takes not less than 2 months to process the certificates; maintain a reliable website where all the notified certificates will be up-loaded for easy verification by the consuming public; enforce copyright administration in Nigeria, especially as it concerns Collecting Societies (MCSN, PMRS and others). The OD plants would want the commission to clear the air on who gives replicating rights. Is it the label owners, artists, producers or the collecting societies?"

"Also, we need the commission's clarification on the issuance of notification certificates to local language translations of foreign movie labels and assist in liaising with the appropriate quarters in reducing the duty rate on major raw materials for manufacturing of optical discs (polycarbonate resin) from the present 10 per cent to 5 per cent as it is obtained in many industrial raw materials which are not locally available, not even in Africa", he added.

The President of Performing Musicians Employers' Association of Nigeria, (PMAN) Admiral Dele Abiodun also commended the initiative of the NCC on the SID code vowing to ensure that his members give total support to the project because they would be the one to benefit most from the successful implementation of the SID code.

The Director General, Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) Mr. Emeka Mba also noted that with the launch and then the implementation of the SID code, the activities of pirates will be greatly curtailed urging all Nigerians to give their support and cooperation.

To round up the programme, SID codes were presented to the 13 members of the ODRAN. The Director General of the NCC called on all unregistered optical disc replicators to come out and register