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Cablegate: Nigeria: Industry Unhappy with Ncc Director General

VZCZCXRO5197
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2508/01 3401136
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061136Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1599
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 8383
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002508

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR (AGAMA)
TREASURY FOR DPETERS
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
USDOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS
USDOC FOR USPTO - JOHN KOEPPEN,PAUL SALMON
USDOJ FOR MARIE-FLORE KOUAME

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KIPR PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: INDUSTRY UNHAPPY WITH NCC DIRECTOR GENERAL

REF: ABUJA 2436

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION OUTSIDE USG

1. (SBU) Summary. Adebambo Adewopo, Director General of the
Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), has received negative press
reports in the local media and been subject to complaints from
intellectual property (IP) rights experts regarding his tenure at
the NCC. Some of the reports against him can be traced to the
ongoing battle between two rival collection societies, the
Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) and the Musical
Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN). According to the IFPI, the NCC
is ill-equipped to enforce copyright protection and Director General
Adewopo only pays lip service to copyright enforcement without
taking the needed action to prosecute copyright offenders. End
Summary.
.
--------------------
MCSN, PMRS Imbroglio
--------------------
.
2. (U) The Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) and the
Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) were licensed collecting
societies responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of Nigerian
musicians. Both agencies had been in a long drawn out battle for
supremacy and legitimacy. The PMRS was licensed to collect
royalties during the era when military governments ruled Nigeria,
but the MCSN was also collecting royalties at the time without being
licensed.

3. (SBU) Adewopo has been involved with the MCSN for several years.
The media alleges that Adewopo unilaterally licensed the MCSN to
collect royalties before the NCC board was constituted in 2004.
Before his appointment as Director General, Adewopo and his law
firm, Laoye and Adewopo, represented MCSN and he personally appeared
in court on MCSN's behalf. Contacts and the media claim that the
business relationship that exists between the firm, and MCSN is the
reason why Adewopo granted MCSN approval as a collecting society
when he became NCC DG.

4. (SBU) After petitions were written to former President Obasanjo
by IP stakeholders noting Adewopo's role with MCSN, he was suspended
from office in 2005 because he did not follow due process in
licensing MCSN. The suspension ended in February 2006 and the
President decreed that supervision of the NCC be moved from the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism to the Ministry of Justice. Several
contacts have said that this move is unconstitutional, has not been
approved by the National Assembly and is example of the previous
administration's failure to the follow the constitution.

5. (U) In September 2007, NCC withdrew the licenses of both MCSN and
PMRS, declaring both collecting societies illegal. NCC stated that
it would take necessary steps to approve collecting societies in due
course.
.
------------------------------
IFPI DISAPPOINTED WITH ADEWOPO
------------------------------
.
6. (SBU) On November 27 Embassy Economic Officers met with Akeem
Aponmade and Willem Von Adrichem of the IFPI to discuss copyright
protection in Nigeria. Both Aponmade and Von Adrichem agreed that
some progress has been made regarding conducting raids on the
premises of alleged copyright offenders, and pointed to the Economic
and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the agency best to work
with. Aponmade described positive collaboration with the IFPI and
EFCC and said "the EFCC is more professional in doing its job."
Regarding the NCC, both expressed reservations about the NCC's
ability to carry out its statutory responsibility because it is
ill-equipped and ill-prepared. IFPI reported that attempts to
provide funding support to NCC investigative activities have been
unfruitful to due to questionable accounting practices at NCC.

7. (SBU) The IFPI officials commented that though the Optical Disc
Regulation has been recently passed, its implementation will be a
major challenge for the NCC because the "NCC pays only lip service
to copyright issues and doesn't take concrete steps or actions
whenever it is required." In their opinion, Adewopo prefers talking
to the press about exaggerated achievements, rather than ensuring
that copyright offenders are prosecuted and punished. He can not be
trusted to protect copyrights because the NCC has never obtained a

ABUJA 00002508 002 OF 002


judgment against any copyright offender.

8. (SBU) IFPI reported that in a case involving Magnet, a compact
disc replicating plant in Lagos, after the company was raided with
the assistance of the EFCC in April 2007, a copy of the case file
was passed to the NCC in May to prosecute. NCC did nothing and
waited until August to request an original copy of the case file
from the EFCC. At this time, IFPI reported that, the accused
persons have yet to be arraigned in court.

9. (SBU) The IFPI was also upset that the NCC lost evidence needed
to prosecute Nasinma Industries, a Chinese owned factory that was
producing pirated CDs and pornographic materials, following a raid
in 2004. The NCC claimed that it inadvertently destroyed the
evidence along with some other counterfeit materials during a press
event to trumpet their achievements. The destruction of this
evidence led to the dismissal of the case.
.
-------
Comment
-------
.
10. (SBU) The allegations against Director General Adewopo are
serious. Embassy contacts have also concurred with allegations of
improprieties by Adewopo. Media reports may be skewed against
Adewopo because of the ongoing battle between PMRS and MCSN, his law
firm's prominent role with MCSN, and his close ties to former
President Obasanjo. Professor E.S. Nwauche, Adewopo's predecessor
and former Director General of the NCC, resigned his appointment at
the NCC because of disagreements between PMRS and MCSN, which led to
widespread protests on the streets of Lagos and Abuja led by the
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN).

11. (SBU) It is difficult to determine whether the destruction of
evidence in the Nasinma case was done intentionally or a result of
incompetence. NCC staff are poorly trained and often unable to do
their jobs effectively. The NCC is not adequately funded, and in
2006 the it's budget was omitted from the Ministry of Justice budget
submission.

12. (SBU) Post in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice
and U.S. Copyright Office recently conducted a seminar in Abuja with
the NCC, EFCC and other GON agencies to improve skills (reftel).
Following that training it was clear to the trainers that the NCC
was not as well trained as the EFCC reps. In addition, in the last
year Post has sent a substantial number of NCC officers to the U.S.
for training at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
training center. Most times NCC staff, and staff of the Patents and
Trademarks Office do not have funding for their return trip airfare
to attend the training, and request to be fully funded by USPTO.
This is common problem in the Nigerian public sector because only
salaries and overhead fully funded, no provision is made for
training.

SANDERS

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