Abiru’s Bill Seeking To Repeal Old Copyrights Law Passes Second Reading

Wale Jagun

Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA, Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District.

The Senate on Tuesday (today) passed for second reading a Bill by the Senator representing the Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA, which seeks to protect copyrights in Nigeria.

The bill, titled ‘The Copyright Act Repeal And Re-Enactment Bill, 2021’, will replace the extant Copyright Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 when finally passed into law.

According to a statement released by Mr Enitan Olukotun, Special Adviser to Senator on Media & Publicity, the bill widens protection to include digital contents among others which were not covered in the existing law.

Abiru, while leading debate on the bill at the plenary, argued that there was a need to enact a stronger law that will protect investments of copyright owners, stressing that Copyright Act 1988 (as amended) has become obsolete in addressing emerging contemporary issues in Nigeria's copyright industries.

The Senator, who cited Section 16(1)(a) and Section 16 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution as amended that, enjoined government to promote national prosperity and provide atmosphere for self-reliant economy and protection of citizens to engage in lawful economic activities, while decrying the plight of intellectual content producers under the weakened legislation.

“Many Nigerian businesses have disappeared and many Nigerian creators have died because of the harm occasioned by piracy and the weak mechanisms offered by the existing legal framework and successive government’s inability to sufficiently fund the Nigerian Copyright Commission”, the Senator said.

“Time and again, stakeholders in the Nigerian copyright community have called for the amendment of the copyright law in line with new technologies and stipulate deterrent penalties but there has been no follow up action in terms of amendments to the Copyright Act 1988 which was promulgated in 1999, under the military regime more than Twenty-Two (22) years ago.

‘’More significantly, the emergence of digital technologies revolutionized the creative economy as production and dissemination of creative works became more accessible and lent themselves to global exploitation beyond national boundaries.

The statement added that the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi (Niger North), backed the bill.

He argued that the new bill of Copyright “rightly captured what is obtainable in our global knowledge- based economy’’, adding that the facts on the ground should necessitate passage of the bill.

He said that twenty years ago, top global companies were the oil companies and the rest but that today, tech companies have overtaken them. He stressed that the bill, if passed into law, will guarantee reward for hundreds of talented young Nigerians who are breaking frontiers in the tech space and music industry.

The Senate passed the bill and mandated its joint committee on Trade and Investments and Judiciary and Human Rights to work on the bill and report back within four weeks.

The bill seeks to Strengthen the copyright regime in Nigeria and to enhance the competitiveness of its creative industries in a digital and knowledge-based global economy.

Also, it will effectively protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts while also providing appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, encouraging cultural interchange and advancing public welfare among other benefits.

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