STRAP and CLAMP – Nigeria Copyright Commission in Action

September 2008

NCC Director General Adebambo Adewopo inspecting CDs, DVD and VCDs from the Wuse market in Abuja. (Photos: NCC)
NCC Director General Adebambo Adewopo inspecting CDs, DVD and VCDs from the Wuse market in Abuja. (Photos: NCC)

STRAP and CLAMP – strong words that rightfully conjure up images of police enforcement and punishment as the acronyms for the Nigeria Copyright Commission’s (NCC) anti-piracy initiatives: the Strategic Action Against Piracy launched in 2005 and the Copyright Litigation and Mediation Programme, the alternative dispute resolution arm of STRAP, followed a year later. In the war against piracy, the NCC is on the attack and achieving measurable results.

Dynamics of piracy in Nigeria

Ten years back, there was not much of a market for CDs in Nigeria. Popular local music came out on cassettes and foreign content on CDs that few could afford. There were one or two CD production plants. Today there are 15 plants and a distorted distribution network that cannot keep up with market demands. The daily output of 100,000 legitimate CDs is easily absorbed by Nigeria’s 140,000,000 plus population, leaving a lot of room for pirates. Legitimate lines of production must be set up, making affordable products legally available.

But the problems caused by the vastness and informality of Nigeria’s internal marketplace are not the only complications when it comes to fighting piracy:

  • cross-borders issues arise with Nigeria’s four neighbors: Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger;
  • limited resources must be optimized and field work targeted for the best results;
  • there is a general lack of awareness of IP laws and regulations.

Under the Nigerian legislation, the NCC is responsible for administering, regulating and enforcing copyright in Nigeria. The NCC had its work cut out to gradually overcome attitudes ingrained in society from youth up to the policymakers themselves. How to achieve all of that while building capacity across government institutions, especially in the area of enforcement? The STRAP anti-piracy initiative was implemented on three strategic platforms, namely: pubic enlightenment and education; enforcement; and rights administration.

The strategy

Enlightenment is aimed at providing stakeholders with knowledge of their IP rights and how to defend them, promoting respect for IP among users, and encouraging creativity. Enforcement, initiated by rights holders’ complaints, entails the seizure of counterfeit products as well as prosecution of suspected infringers. Rights administration covers collective management, the notification and management of IP rights, and assuring that production plants operate within the law. STRAP covers all copyright areas from the movie industry to music, from software and books to broadcasting.

In its first year of operation, the enforcement arm of STRAP arrested a number of infringers who claimed that they were not aware of the need for a license to reproduce material or of the information about where and how to obtain one; they claimed they operated outside the law due to ignorance. At the same time, many small rights holders could not afford the legal fees related to bringing these counterfeiters to court. CLAMP, an integral component of STRAP, was created to give small rights owners the opportunity to negotiate out-of-court settlements and licenses with these infringers. In one year, CLAMP mediators successfully settled eleven cases out-of-court.

Outcome of the first years

From May 2005 to May 2007, STRAP activities resulted in the inspections of plants and outlets for CD, optical disc and video productions and rentals all over the country to verify that they operated within the law. In addition, over 115 operations were carried out against book, music, film, software and broadcast counterfeiters. Here are the outcomes:

  • 373 suspects arrested;
  • seizure of 8,346,815 pirated works;
  • 15 new copyright cases brought to court, resulting, so far, in four convictions: two in the Federal High Court of Maiduguri for counterfeiting books and two in Federal High Court of Calabar for broadcast piracy;
  • the public destruction (burning) of seized counterfeit products with an estimated market value in Nigerian Naira 1,263,000,000 (US$10,710,000); and
  • 15 optical disc plants were brought under regulation through the new Optical Discs Plant Regulation issued in December 2006.

STRAP attributes a huge part of its success to coordinated inter-agency collaboration among enforcement agencies such as the police, customs service, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, the National Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) and the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission as well as the industry players.

Outreach: lawyers, teachers, children

The NCC determined that IP education in Nigeria was in need of a serious upgrade. With assistance from the WIPO Academy, STRAP created a training point for IP lawyers. First they trained the trainers, then the IP lawyers, and now they are assisting other African countries by organizing study visits. STRAP developed its own material to teach IP local perspective with local examples and cases.

STRAP also targeted young people by creating Copyright Clubs in schools. So far ten schools have engaged in the program, two in the Federal Capital territory and eight in southwest Nigeria. The Club provides students with bite-size bits of information at a time on copyright and the dangers of infringement, so that they feel concerned with copyright issues. But its principal goal is to encourage young people to be creative and aware of the ideals of copyright and IP.

Call for collaboration

The Survey of Copyright Piracy in Nigeria, conducted by the NCC in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, shows that the level of piracy is 58 percent of all copyrighted works in Nigeria. Despite the efforts and achievements of the STRAP initiative, the Survey enumerated poverty, high cost of originals, greed and profitability and weak law enforcement as the causes.

NCC Director General Adebambo Adewopo, who commissioned the report to provide baseline information and statistics on piracy in Nigeria to drive the STRAP initiative, expressed surprise at “the high level of ignorance about the copyright system amongst right owners, enforcement agencies and other officials who were hitherto presumed to be sufficiently informed.” He noted that this realization “suggests the need for the commission to step up its public enlightenment and right owner education program in order to sensitize stakeholders on their right and the best methods of addressing the copyright piracy.”

Mr. Adewopo used the Survey’s release on August 28 as an opportunity to call out to stakeholders to join the STRAP initiative. He acknowledges that NCC does need more resources to administer, popularize and enforce the copyright law but that community collaboration is the key to fight piracy.

D’banj, R&B/Hip-Hop Star and STRAP Ambassador

Image Placeholder
The award-winning D'banj - Koko Master -
celebrated his birthday at the Nigeria
Copyright Commission.

D’banj’s main concern on June 9, the day he turned 28, was with piracy. So for his birthday Koko Master – as his fans nicknamed him – headed down to the Nigerian Copyright Commission. It was a strange way to celebrate a birthday, but since the award-winning Nigerian singer-songwriter and harmonica player broke onto the global music scene, he had become more than cognizant with counterfeiting and wanted to do something about it.

“I’ve seen what the NCC has done for other entertainers, and it encouraged me to come down here to give support to the STRAP program,” he said. “Piracy is bedeviling the entertainment industry. Proper strategies have to be put in place so artists can make money from record sales. In other countries, artists make money by accruing royalties. But only a few of us in Nigeria are getting our dues.” D’banj wants to work with the NCC to resolve the problem.

D’banj studied mechanical engineering in university. He won the Best African Act at the 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards, Hip Hop World Revelation at the 2006 Hip Hop World Awards, Most Promising Male Artist at the 2005 KORA All African Awards; and the list goes on. He recently signed a deal with Akon, the Senegalese-American R&B/hip-hop singer, songwriter and record producer.

By Sylvie Castonguay, WIPO Magazine Editorial Team, Communications and Public Outreach Division.

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