Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission ,NCC, Mr. John O. Asein, has called on stakeholders in the book sector to work towards the formulation and adoption of a National Book Policy that would address the emerging issues in the sector.
He made the call in his remarks at a copyright webinar organised by the Commission as part of the Virtual Nigerian International Book Fair, 2020 with the theme: “Information Technology as a Panacea for the Book Industry Sustainability Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic”.
Mr. Asein noted that the COVID-19 pandemic presented practitioners in the book industry with an opportunity to redesign their business models, stressing that it was imperative for all those concerned to go back to the drawing board and address the new realities of today in order to guarantee a better tomorrow.
He advised authors, publishers, printers, booksellers and others in the value chain to leverage on emerging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools to sustain their relevance in the industry.
According to him, the Commission has harmonised its regulatory and enforcement framework for a balanced, responsive and sustainable copyright ecosystem that would continue to meet the needs of the wider creative sector.
The Director-General disclosed that in partnership with accredited bodies, the Commission would soon roll out measures to monitor the production, importation, warehousing, distribution and sale of books, lamenting the reckless abuse by pirates.
“The Commission will also activate all provisions of the Copyright Act, including the obligation on publishers, printers, producers and manufacturers of copyright works to keep a register of works. Our primary objective is to provide a more congenial business environment for copyright business, check book piracy and promote effective management and enforcement of rights”, he added.
He said that the proposed measures followed discussions between NCC and stakeholders including the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), the Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN); and the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON), to develop appropriate technology-based solutions to some of the lingering problems in the industry.
Noting that Nigeria ratified the Marrakesh Treaty in October 2017 to enable persons who were blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled have access to published works, the Director-General also urged publishers to deploy information technology to ensure that more books were made accessible to such persons.
“We urge relevant Government agencies at Federal and State levels to adopt a policy requiring all government funded book production or procurement agreements to include an obligation that the books should also be made available in formats that blind and visually impaired persons can access”, he stated.
Mr Asein assured that the Commission would partner with the Nigeria Association of the Blind to follow-up on its collaboration with the Accessible Book Consortium (ABC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the training of publishers and braille production centres to promote the production of school books in accessible formats.
He condemned the rising incidence of illicit book sharing on WhatsApp groups, rogue e-libraries and fraudulent online bookstores, especially in the wake of the pandemic and e-learning solutions that it has forced on the education system. To this end, he assured right owners that the Commission would continue to monitor the online space and respond speedily to reports of copyright abuses.