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Cablegate: Nigeria: Lawyers, Producers Have No Confidence In

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DE RUEHOS #0484/01 3361443
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011443Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0347
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9988
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000484

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
STATE PASS USTR FOR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN AND MSTUCKART
STATE PASS TDA FOR LFITT, PMARIN
DOJ FOR MKOUAME
STATE PASS USCO FOR PPINHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ECON ETRD EINV PGOV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: LAWYERS, PRODUCERS HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN
NATIONAL COPYRIGHT COMMISSION

1. (SBU) Summary: In an October 13-14 seminar on
intellectual property rights for professionals in the film
industry, participants complained that the Nigerian Copyright
Commission (NCC) turns a blind eye to massive, blatant piracy
conducted in plain view of the agency. The NCC touted a new
notification process intended to facilitate investigations if
a complaint is filed. Filmmakers are planning to engage in
copyright collective societies and professionalize informal
production and contract relationships. End summary.

2. (U) On October 13-14, the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO), Nigerian Copyright Commission, and
Communicating for Change, a non-governmental organization
that raises awareness on development and environmental
issues, hosted a national seminar on intellectual property
rights for professionals in the film industry. This event
included speakers from private industry, producers,
filmmakers, lawyers, and representatives of the NCC.
Sessions explained Nigerian copyright law, the role of the
NCC in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR), and
business models to enhance legal sales and distribution of
media.

Producers and Lawyers: The NCC is Ineffective
--------------------------------------------- -

3. (SBU) Discussions of the legal framework and enforcement
mechanisms available to protect the film media revealed that
the prevailing concern among producers and lawyers is the
ineffectual role of the NCC. Vocal participants, such as
well-known local lawyer Efere Ozako, who defends and promotes
the copyrights of cable television channel Africa Magic, and
Peace Fiberisima, filmmaker and Executive Officer for the
Africa Film Academy, claimed that the NCC has never
successfully resolved a case submitted for investigation for
copyright violations. Ozako and other lawyers accused the
NCC of falling short of its mandate to combat piracy, and
said it must take steps to act where there is blatant
violation of the law. Many stated that they were ashamed
that the NCC turns a blind eye to even the most public
operations of producers and distributors massively engaged in
the piracy of Nigerian and international films.

NCC: Producers Must Enforce Copyright
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Representatives of the NCC clarified their view
that producers are solely responsible for enforcing
copyright. Adisa Adedeji, Special Assistant to the Director
General of the NCC, stated that the NCC is not responsible
for ferreting out pirates or for prosecuting them. The NCC
can only conduct an investigation if a producer finds that
his copyright is being violated and files the proper reports
of copyright infringement, he claimed. Adedeji stated that
the NCC can only protect work of which it is aware, and so
has instituted a new notification process that allows
producers to register their works with the agency. The new
process will facilitate investigations if a complaint is
later filed. NCC representatives encouraged producers to
form their own associations and to watch out for copyright
infringement of each other's work. The NCC is limited by a
small budget, which NCC officials claimed was insufficient in
2008 even to pay salaries; stakeholders, therefore, should
advocate on behalf of the commission for more resources, they
urged. In addition, NCC officials claimed that piraters are
dangerous people, which limits their ability to bust
distribution rings. They also claimed that the NCC is not
present at the border, making it impossible for the agency to
fight international smuggling of copyrighted materials. On
the margins of the meeting, contacts told Poloff that the NCC
is likely profiting through bribes and payoffs from the
piracy.

LAGOS 00000484 002 OF 002

Solutions Must Come From Within the Industry
--------------------------------------------

5. (U) As a developing industry, Nigerian filmmaking has
been largely informal and there are rarely contracts or
documents attesting to the true owners of a film or
television production. Participants said that the question
of informality makes it impossible to determine who should
get credit for the work. When the creator of the work cannot
be identified, it is impossible to enforce a copyright. In
light of these challenges, filmmakers at the conference
emphasized the need to professionalize their industry so as
to benefit from the legal framework. Filmmakers and others
in the film industry were urged to form copyright collective
societies, which would allow members to work together to sell
non-exclusive licenses, collect, negotiate, and distribute
royalties, maintain better vigilance over their work, and
seek full legal protection. Organizing would give them more
power in pushing the NCC to address infringement cases and
seek compensation for copyright violations.

6. (SBU) Comment: The film community's obvious lack of
confidence in the NCC appears to have pushed it, with a nudge
in the right directions from WIPO, toward mechanisms that
will allow it better to protect its works. Without better
protection, Nollywood, which produces and distributes more
films than Hollywood or Bollywood, has no incentive to
improve the quality of its films, a move widely regarded as
necessary to make the industry commercially viable. End
comment.

7. (U) This cable has been coordinated with Embassy Abuja.
BLAIR

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