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Right owners blame NCC for loss of income

A group of notable copyright owners laid blame on the NCC when radio stations, banks, hotels and mobile phones network operators etc.  play their songs…

A group of notable copyright owners laid blame on the NCC when radio stations, banks, hotels and mobile phones network operators etc.  play their songs without giving them royalties. Every year, we and our fellow musicians lose billions yes, billions with a “B” in naira because your Agency has failed to licence any organisations to collect royalties for us,” a group of a artistes stated in an open letter to the Director General of NCC, Mr Adebambo Adewopo.

  According to some operators within the creative industry, the statement by NCC over a year ago, precisely the 14th of January 2009, for the commencement of assessment of applications to operate CMO’s in order “to reposition collective management of copyright in Nigeria,” was shrouded in secrecy, said the operators and no one knows the number of prospective CMO’s that applied especially after the extended deadline for submission of applications. “We are in the dark as to what NCC is doing” said one of the operator who did not want his name mentioned.

  However, an assistant director with the NCC, Sir Charles Olisaeloka Obi said NCC is a regulatory agency and it is not binding on it to indicate the number of applications it received. He hinted that the organisation has gone far in evaluating the large volume of applications before it and reiterated his agency’s commitment “to usher in a new dawn in collective management of rights.” He urged right owners to continue to exercise patience.

  For right owners, the absence of effective collective management companies for their labour and investments over the years has resulted in immense loses. Many of them have been forced out of business while waiting, some have even died without due rewards for their efforts, said Daniel Adamu, who took a break from gospel music to concentrate on Architecture in order to survive.     

  According to the NCC, “essentially, for any creative work to come to fruition, the author/ right owner must have invested time, energy and money in that work. The Commission’s enforcement programmes are geared towards fighting piracy and giving the right owners due returns on every creative investment. Under this programme, Copyright Inspectors have been appointed, national anti-piracy campaign launched and anti-piracy committees established at both national and state levels. In addition the Commission’s active cooperation with the Nigerian Police Force has led to the formation of “Anti-Piracy Squad” in all police divisions across Nigeria” said the NCC.

  However, many artistes in Nigeria argue that the laws against piracy are not severe enough to halt the surge in piracy all over the country. Apparently, this is why pirates are making more money than right owners in Nigeria. Worse still, “musicians still have no collecting organisation that is licensed to collect royalties on their behalf, the NCC’s failure to do this is causing musicians to lose a lot of income,” said Yinka Davies, a pop jazz music star.

  In a statement which Davies signed alongside other colleagues states, “our call for the registration of multiple collecting societies that meet the gazetted conditions for the registrations of CMO’s is borne out of the fact that more societies mean more choices for the Nigerian creator as to who manages his intellectual property,” the statement said.

  Davies also said they are optimistic that the NCC will live up to its obligations to ensure a more profitable creative industry in Nigeria and dismissed insinuations that the NCC may appoint certain interests of the powers that be as the new CMOs.

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