Mary Ekah Stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry and experts from around the world recently converged in Lagos for the historic Nigerian Digital Music Summit held at the Eko Hotel and Suits, Victoria Island, Lagos. The two-day summit tagged, “Establishing the Basic Rules of Engagement in the Digital Environment” was organized by Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) in collaboration with Growth & Employment Project (GEM) (funded by the World Bank and domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment).
The main aim of the summit, which organizers said was to keep stakeholders informed on all issues that affect the development of the music industry, they noted, was also borne out of the obvious need to set in place the proper framework for the exploitation of music in the digital space, set in motion the desired change the industry seeks.
The Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. Afam Ezekude, said in his speech that, “It is important for users of creative contents including telecom companies to leverage on the facilities of our copyright system to ensure the sustenance of seamless availability of creative content to enhance their value added services. Use of creative content should be on the basis of licenses legitimately issued by those who own rights to the creative content”
Speaking further he said, “Most operators appear not to be engaging the right platforms to secure appropriate licenses for creative contents deployed on some networks. Consequently, we are continually witnessing some avoidable copyright disputes, which do not only impact negatively on the image of the service providers, but also distract authors from pursuing their creative endeavors”
He said therefore that the Copyright Act has provided for collective management of rights, which is globally acknowledged as the best mechanism for licensing of content where the use of such content has assumed a certain anonymous scale making it difficult for users to trace and approach individual right owners for separate licenses.
Chairman of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, explained that the summit was not meant to be a talk shop rather; it was a, “Historic opportunity to agree on how the Nigerian music industry will move forward in a new era so that everybody’s interest is protected and the industry can grow and meet its true potentials. It may need to be repeated that if the industry does not agree on how to move forward, everyone will move to trenches and just fight it out”
He said further that following the summit, it was envisaged that there will be an industry monitoring committee to ensure that the players are complying with the new rules and where there is a need for legislation to ensure compliance, the right steps are taken to ensure that such legislation is passed.
Project Coordinator, GEM, Mr. Yunusa Labaran, explained the reason GEM chose to sponsor the summit. “We must support the music industry to grow and to pay. Oil which has been the mainstay of our economy has been dwindling and there is a need to diversify to strengthen our economy”, he said, adding, “the outcome of the summit will help us set up an intervention to help the industry grow and create employment for the growth of the Nigerian economy”.