Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has asked the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to take personal responsibility to activate the copyright Private Copy Levy scheme, the documents of which are said to be gathering dust in her ministry.
Reading the Nigerian music industry address on the celebration of the annual ‘No Music Day’ on September 1, 2014, at the COSON office in Lagos, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said, ‘The Nigerian music industry today calls on the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to immediately and personally take charge and unshackle the Private Copy Levy Scheme which has remained trapped in the Directorate of Fiscal Policy in her ministry for months. The Private Copy Levy Scheme which for many years has been in operation in many countries around the world, including some in our sub region, is intended to provide badly needed cushion for the stakeholders in the creative industry suffering from the unbridled copying and downloading of creative materials made possible by modern technology’
Continuing, Chief Okoroji said, ‘the Nigerian music industry is aware that the order to activate the Private Copy Levy has since been made by the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke and published in the Federal Gazette. The Nigerian Copyright Commission has held several public consultations on the levy and the stakeholders have since looked forward to the commencement of the scheme. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, the documents seeking the approval of the Finance Minister to activate the scheme remain trapped in some files in the office of the Director of Fiscal Policy in the Federal Ministry of Finance while the industry meant to benefit from it is suffocating.’
The COSON Chairman also stressed, ‘if the Honourable Minister has any questions on the scheme, we are ready to provide the answers. We believe that within a few minutes, this scheme which will provide some succour not just for the music industry but also for the movie and literary industries should be given an opportunity to make progress.’
While commending the government of President Goodluck Jonathan for his interest in providing desperately needed funds for Nigeria’s creative industries so that they can achieve their potentials, he expressed the concern of the music industry that the government may have been made to see Nigeria’s creative industries as beginning and ending with Nollywood saying that it would be a huge mistake.
In the words of the former President of PMAN: ‘Please let us clarify that we fully support any assistance given by the government to our brothers and sisters in the Nigerian movie industry with whom we maintain an excellent relationship and work very closely with for the good of Nigeria. We are simply saying that the very reasons for government intervention in the movie industry apply fully to the Nigerian music sector which is equally making our nation proud across the world.’
Chief Okoroji also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the Bank of Industries (BOI), the Nigerian Export & Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Trade & Investments and everyone connected with the Growth in Employment in States Fund (GEMS) and the Entertainment Industry Intervention Fund announced by President Jonathan three years ago to do what is necessary to make sure that the funds begin to have real impact on the industry, create the badly needed employment and reduce the restiveness in Nigeria.
‘We wish to state that both the Growth in Employment in States Fund (GEMS) and the Entertainment Industry Intervention Fund announced by President Goodluck Jonathan three years ago, which created so much initial buzz, have not been the catalysts they were intended to be’ said Chief Okoroji.
On No Music Day, COSON officials practically enveloped the airwaves in an unprecedented and well co-ordinated campaign against piracy and all forms of copyright infringement. Several COSON officials spoke simultaneously as numerous broadcasting stations ran live interviews and discussion programmes. Now Muzik CEO, Efe Omorogbe was on TVC; Gospel Choral Records CEO, Mr. Joel Ajayi was on Metro FM; Queen of Love Azeezat Allen was on Eko FM; CEO of Chocolate City, Audu Maikori was on CNBC; COSON lawyer, Justin Ige was on City FM; General Manager, Chinedu Chukwuji was on OGBC and Galaxy TV. Lawyers, Akeem Aponmade was on Beat and Classic FM while Akinyemi Ayinoluwa was Radio Nigeria 1. Bayo Omisore was also on Galaxy TV while Sheye Lawal was on Smooth FM among many others.
As we mark No Music Day today, we once again call on President Jonathan to direct the Bank of Industries (BOI), the Nigerian Export & Import Bank (NEXIM) the Federal Ministry of Trade & Investments and everyone connected with the funds to do what is necessary to make sure that they begin to have real impact on the industry, create badly needed employment and reduce the restiveness in our nation.
We also repeat our call on the Honourable Minister of Culture to act without further delay to get the National Endowment Fund for the Arts up and running so that there are resources to take care of funding for creative projects and the welfare of creative people who have fallen into hard times.
As the digital age evolves more and more, it is clear that the shape of the music industry will be remarkably different. Already the method of music distribution is changing rapidly with the CD gradually disappearing and cell phones, ipads, ipods, Mp3s, Mp4s, memory chips, memory sticks and similar devices replacing the CD. The internet has also become a major source of music. These developments pose tremendous challenges to the industry as the business models cannot remain the same.
It is in recognition of the above that the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition working closely with COSON organized the first Nigerian Digital Music Licensing Summit which held at Protea Hotel, Ikeja last year. The working committee set up by the summit has been working hard to establish the rules of engagement in the new environment so that practitioners in Nigeria can be ahead of the curve.