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Stakeholders seek better way to tackle challenges in Nollywood

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LAST week in Lagos, the issues of copyright reform and the need for the film industry to enjoy strong incentives through legal security at home and abroad to support its economic growth attracted attention at a one-day international forum.

Organized by the Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP) in collaboration with the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), France, the forum appeared to have been stimulated by the ongoing discussions in Geneva, Switzerland on a possible international instrument for exceptions to copyright for access to print publications by the blind and print impaired.

The implication of this on the bottom-line for film producers in Nollywood, if endorsed without careful scrutiny, would further squeeze the dwindling income stream.

Also, the issue of the much-desired Collective Management Organization (CMO) for the audio-visual sector in Nigeria came up for discussion as well. The president of ANCOP, Comrade Alex Eyengho, in his opening address, expressed disappointment at some of his colleagues who did not attend the enlightenment forum because of divisions in the industry, which made them see it as a thing for members of ANCOP. He said others saw it as a non-profitable venture because they were not going to be given money.

He lamented the ignorance amongst industry players, who, he stated hardly know any better outside the collective management framework – that is, in the context of the private contracts negotiated at market rates with distributors, broadcasters, film exhibitors or online platforms, among others.

He noted, “We are indeed concerned that governments and regulators throughout the world may all too easily think that the answer to all the challenges of rights exploitation in future may lie in collective management”.

Eyengho called on government to reflect on Nollywood and allied industries’ demands for strong copyright protection in their approach to debates at the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), where key decisions are made about the future of the international copyright framework.

“At a time when consultations are about to start about our own Nigerian copyright system reform, it is vital to our creative industry that coherence should prevail between our national copyright law and the international copyright framework”, he said. “Both must emphasise strong copyright protection for creative works in the digital age.”

Managing Director, Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN), Mr. Mayo Ayilaran, who presented a paper on The Nigerian Film Sector and its Related Copyright Challenges, related his personal experience, saying many people have the erroneous impression that forming and operating a collecting society for any right or any sector was an easy thing to do.

In reality, he noted, “Many of these unions, associations, businesses incorporated do not exist beyond their certificate of incorporation. We do not succeed because we start by setting aside the provisions of the law to pursue our subjective preferences over and above what the law intends. If those of us involved in the film sector desire to realise the benefit of copyright in our products and creativities, we should start by making the law our bible and guide, otherwise we may not go far before trouble will set in.”

Stakeholders seek better way to tackle challenges in Nollywood
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