As part of its strategic interventions towards enhanced copyright protection, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has inaugurated a corps of Special Copyright Inspectors (SCIs) to check the menace of copyright piracy in the country.
Director-General of NCC, Mr. John O. Asein, disclosed this in Abuja during the investiture of the chairman and members of the Governing Board of the Commission as pioneer Special Copyright Inspectors in line with section 38 of the Copyright Act 2004 which vests all the powers and privileges of a Police officer in the Copyright Inspector.
According to him, the investiture which was done during the Board meeting, was imperative to complement the statutory role of the Commission’s regular Copyright Inspectors (CIs), in view of the inadequacy of the manpower and institutional presence of NCC across all the states of the Federation.
The Director-General stated that it was necessary to enlist all stakeholders in the renewed anti-piracy campaign of the Commission, adding that the investiture of the Board members as SCIs was the first phase of the initiative while other volunteer stakeholders with sound copyright knowledge and passion for development of the creative sector would also be invested as special copyright inspectors in due course.
Mr. Asein remarked that the Commission was committed to its new policy thrust to change the copyright narrative with a view to ensuring that right owners and the creative industries get due return on their investments while contributing to national wealth creation.
He said considering that the Commission currently has operational offices in only 14 states, the inauguration of Special Copyright Inspectors as volunteers in support of the regular Copyright Inspectors would strengthen and spread the effectiveness of the enforcement interventions of NCC in the 36 states of the Federation.
Chairman of NCC Governing Board, Dr. Tonye Clinton Jaja, lauded the SCI initiative as a proactive measure geared at effective implementation of the Commission’s enforcement mandate in line with its enabling law.
Calling on the Press to accord adequate publicity to copyright issues, the Board Chairman assured that the Governing Board would fully support the Management of NCC in its efforts to actualise the Commission’s vision for sustainable development of the copyright based industries.
Explaining the duties of Special Copyright Inspectors, the NCC Director of Enforcement, Mr. Augustine Amodu, said the Copyright Act conferred a Copyright Inspector with Police powers of investigation, inspection, seizure, arrest and prosecution in enforcement of the Act.
The Director of Enforcement stated that a Special Copyright Inspector was a volunteer stakeholder of integrity, adequately knowledgeable in copyright, and so invested by the Commission to carry out its vision and mission. He identified some key duties of an SCI as engaging in intelligence gathering, providing copyright enlightenment, playing advisory role, providing technical support for anti-piracy enforcement, including checking digital piracy and acting as a witness during prosecution of copyright cases.
The NCC Board members invested as Special Copyright Inspectors along with the Chairman were Comrade Saliu Othman Isah; Dr. (Mrs) Alewai Jidai Mamza; Sir (Dr.) Jessey Odu; Mrs Maria Towo Austin-Odigie; Mr. Okon Udo-Udo Umoh; and Rev. Bayo Awala. Other Board members invested in absentia were Comptroller Mohammed Gagiyo, Mr. John Abang and Dr. Bongos Ikwue.