Monitoring group urges activation of Nigeria's 'private copy levy’

“There is no way that the industries will survive with the free-for-all copying of music, movies and books going on in the country,” says Audu Maikori, former head of record label Chocolate City, now member of Digital Music Monitoring Group. He was speaking at the group’s March meeting.

Audu Maikori. Photo: Encomium
Audu Maikori. Photo: Encomium

The group was founded at the 2015 Digital Music Conference held in Lagos, and tasked with monitoring “progress in the exploitation of music in the digital environment and report at regular intervals.”

At the time of the group’s launch, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) representative said, “The monitoring group has been given a time frame of 12 months with which to implement the resolutions adopted at the summit.”

Maikori’s statement regarding the survival of industries came after members of the monitoring group resolved that the Federal Government of Nigeria should activate the Private Copy Levy, which prescribes a fee to be paid by makers of devices used for the theft of digital intellectual property. The levy, the group says, will lessen the losses made by the entertainment industry due to illegal “acquisition of a large amount of music.” The sums of money obtained from the levy will then be shared between artists, writers, producers and suchlike—all persons who have created the stolen content.

Speaking further, the representative of the Music Producers & Marketers Association of Nigeria (MUPMAN) added that the current situation has discouraged members of his association from investing as returns are not satisfactory. Other members of the Digital Monitoring Group, including the Music Label Owners Association of Nigeria (MULOAN) and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), expressed similar concerns.

The clamour for the activation of the private copy levy, which has origins in 1960s Germany, has increased in recent times with figures in the music industry pointing out that Nigeria was the first African country to include the levy in its national laws. The country did so over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, it has never implemented the law—a detail blamed on the system’s crippling bureaucracy.

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