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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Resource Control has become an important political and economic lexicon in modern geo political realities.In the emerging economies of the world,most especially in Africa,resource control has accounted for numerous armed conflicts,political instability, and economic stagnation. Resources in emerging economies like Nigeria are primarily ascribed to natural & physical properties like oil and gas,agricultural products,gold,diamond and like products that are discoverable under the bowels of the earth.

The attraction to tangible properties like oil, commonly called the “black gold”in Nigeria has resulted in the neglect of other resources which could compete ,if not out- rank oil in terms of wealth generation.Intellectual property rights are resources that Nigerians have neglected or unaware of as a property.It is an intangible property that has generated economic growth and wealth in counties like United States,India,Japan,France and United Kingdom.In the United States ,Hollywood has contributed immensely to the nation’s GDP .In India, Bollywood has contributed greatly to the nations economy.It is the strength of its intellectual property regime that has propel these entertainment capitals of the world to become economic and cultural model,that most of the world desire to emulate.The copyrights ,patent,trademark & publicity rights policies of these countries have been a motivating factor for the economic growth of their entertainment industry.

Nollywood,the Nigerian movies and entertainment industry has been reported by the United Nations to be the fastest growing entertainment industry.It is also second to Hollywood in terms of growth and productivity.In its 2009 report UNESCO,declared that the Nigerian Film Industry is a global leader in the number of movies produced each year. Nollywood is estimated by some industry analysts to be a $250 million dollar per year industry.However,there are no structures and evidence on ground in Nollywood to collaborate the quality and capacity of Nollywood.The Nollywood’s DVD movies are seen in grocery stores all around United States,South Africa,London and unimaginable places in the World. Nollywood’s artist images are seen in commercial media used for events promotion and product endorsement.How much these artist get from proceeds of the usage ,sales and advertisement of their images may not be comparable to what is the practice in Hollywood and other entertainment industries.

The scourge of piracy and infringement of intellectual property rights (used here in a generic sense) of works of Nollywood should be a source of national economic concern and outrage.There is a consensus on the abundance of creative artistic talents in Nollywood. Why can’t we develop the industry to compete and generate income commensurate with what obtains in other global entertainment industries. Nollywood can be a significant economic diversifier,if its cultural and creative capacities are fundamentally developed.It will contributes significantly to the nation’s GDP.

The abundant creative talents in the peoples of Niger Delta,Arewa,Odua and Ndigbo can be tapped positively for the economic benefit of the individual and corporate society.Imagine,if the kidnapping “business men” ,realize that the entertainment industry generates more income and revenue than oil.There may be less tension in the political landscape because the economic space would be enlarged and democratized.The political space may be saved from people whose main interest is to partake in sharing of the “oil money”.These barons may be persuaded to invest their interest in entertainment business.May be it sounds academic,but the point is that there will be other lucrative legitimate avenues that our productive energies can be directed.

Our concern as a nation should be the rejuvenation of our entertainment and cultural industry. The entertainment and cultural industry,particularly the movie/film sector must seduce foreign and national private investors .The pedestrian level of Nollywood does not promote investment opportunities. The lack of effective and efficient structures and policies negates investors’ economic interest.The lack of protective policies for intellectual property right does not encourage an investor to take the risk of investing in Nollywood.

A well developed intellectual property regime can elevate intangible assets like intellectual property rights as a collateral for credit facilities.Young and potential Nollywood rights’ owners who have ideas that need to be brought to life creatively but lack the financial capacity ,can approach a financial body for project financing.The financial system must have confidence in the knowledge economy.Knowledge economy ,which is the genre of intangible assets that intellectual property rights represent can produce returns on investment.This could be achieved by a deliberate developed risk management system for intellectual properties.Technical Protection Measures, specialized computation standards by the Securities and Exchange Commission are a few ways that intellectual property rights can be valuable assets.

The digital age in which the entertainment industry operate makes infringement and stealing of intellectual property cheap and easy.An investor must be assured that her investment will be protected in the age where it is easy with a click of the keyboard billions of dollars are lost.

The government of Nigeria must step in consciously and join other nations who have adapted their intellectual property regimes to current practices.Although,it is not the government that should take a lead in investing in Nollywood.It is the private sector that must take the lead.The role of government must be limited to regulatory ,policy and infrastructural development. Provision of secured environment,encouraging tax rebates, amendment of current Intellectual Property laws.

The Copyright Act must be updated and amended to conform with current global practices.The global entertainment industry that Nollywood belongs operates in various digital platforms.The Nigerian Copyright Act in its present form is out dated and obsolete. There is no provision made to protect copyrights of Nollywood practitioners in the digital platforms.The infringement of their copyrights and other IP rights are mostly going to be carried out on these platforms.The DVDs, the internets,the smart phones and other electronic devices are where the current and next frontiers of IP protection resides.Nollywood is left behind because her works may not be protected.The digital age and intellectual property interface have been recognized by the United Nations.This led to the implementation of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.Technical protection Measure have been recognized by nations that acceded to these treaties as a form of protecting the copyrights of their nationals.These nations have included this new genre of intellectual property rights in their national laws.The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is the United States response to dealing with the digital age.Infringers of copyright and circumventers of technical protection measures in copyright are held accountable.We do not have this tools in Nigeria.This is a serious set back in our effort to be innovative and creative.

Nigeria should accede to WIPO Copyright Treaty and other international instruments so as to avail her of the tools in place globally in protecting and enforcement intellectual property rights of Nollywood.It would be easy to enforce the intellectual property rights of Nollywood practitioners in other parts of the world if those rights are infringed . The reciprocity obligations of member Nations to these international treaties make it easier for the right of a non nationals to be enforced in a foreign land.

Another multiplier effect of Nollywood,would be the emergence of an innovative software industry in Nigeria.Software is the engine of the digital platforms.It is software that runs the digital platforms in which modern entertainment activities are delivered and distributed.The movies and music industries distributed and delivered in the internet,the smart phones,computer networks,DVD,CDs, and other electronic devices are based on innovative softwares.The Nigerian software creators should collaborate with Nollywood rights’ owners through efficient licensing vehicles to create software for the indigenous entertainment industry.The allied industry that would come out of this synergy will be an economic boost to the individual rights’ owners and the corporate national interest.

In the United States Article 1 Section 8 of theUnited States Constitution makes copyright and patent a guaranteed right to her citizen.Nollywood rights’ owners must be guaranteed similar protected rights in the Nigerian Constitution.The technological and innovative advancement of the United States is attributed to the constitutional protection granted to intellectual property rights. This is the time for Nollywood and intellectual property to be regarded as a national economic asset. Nigeria’s desire to compete and excel in global innovation,creativity and technology may depend on it.The new frontier of emerging economic power is in the innovations. Afterall,oil does not possess the exclusive patronage for control as a resources.Nollywood can control its resources too.

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