Friday September 1, 2017 was widely observed across the entire country as “No Music Day”. In line with the request by Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), many broadcast stations across the country halt the broadcast of music between the hours of 8am and 10am as a mark of solidarity with the nation’s creative industries which have suffered immensely from the debilitating infringement of copyright.
Rather than broadcast music, the stations dedicated the time belt to the broadcast of interviews, documentaries, debates and discussions on the rights of creative people and the potential contributions of creative activities to the national economy. Several newspapers and magazines also published special features on these issues. Flags at the COSON House flew at half-mast.
There was vibrant media presence at the ‘open house’ event held at COSON House which event was attended by several key industry personnel. In the official address on ‘The State of the Nigerian Music Industry’ read by COSON GM, Chinedu Chukwuji on behalf of Chief Tony Okoroji, the COSON Chairman reiterated his desire for a new Nigeria economy driven by knowledge and creativity.
Said Okoroji, ‘‘we believe that the time has come for our music industry to go beyond simply providing entertainment but playing a key role in nation building, today, we demand a new Nigeria in which the people of wealth and influence are no longer those who have brazenly stolen the people’s wealth or scammed other people of what rightly belongs to them.
“We ask for a Nigeria driven by knowledge and creativity. We want a nation where a songwriter can depend on his creativity and live well; a good performer does not have to worry about how to feed his family; a talented filmmaker or actor will not be burdened by where his next rent will come from; a gifted author can become a millionaire and does not have to sweat at the thought of his children’s school fees and a fashion designer with a unique style can be celebrated for his or her creativity. We ask for a Nigeria in which a great photographer can be a man of means; an architect does not also have to be a builder to earn commensurate income from his talent; an inventor can live off his invention and a creator of content can thrive from the deployment of his content.
“We earnestly ask for a Nigeria in which a lecturer is no longer ashamed to say that he teaches for a living. In other words, we demand a nation in which knowledge and creativity are celebrated.”
To create a new environment for the music industry to thrive, COSON made the following specific demands:
- President Buhari should mobilize his officials and ensure the full implementation of the Private Copy Levy scheme without any further delay
- The Nigerian Communications Commission should make it very clear to all telecommunications companies operating in Nigeria that henceforth, there will be zero tolerance for the infringement of the Intellectual Property rights of Nigerian citizens whose works are deployed by these companies.
- The Minister of Information & Culture and the different state Governors should make it clear to all Federal Government and State owned broadcasting stations respectively, and other government institutions that there is no provision of the law that exempts them from the payment of royalties for the musical content broadcast or deployed by them.
- The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should, as a matter of urgency, be ordered to take necessary steps to begin the take down of the several pirate websites bastardizing Nigerian Intellectual Property on the Internet.
- President Buhari should instruct the Ministers of Industry, Trade & Investment, the Minister of Foreign Affairs working with the Minister of Information and culture to act swiftly to ensure that the brazen and massive piracy of Nigerian music, movies and literature across our continent are no longer tolerated.
- The President should ensure that the Nigerian Copyright Commission which was unlawfully placed under the supervision of the Minister of Justice is brought back under the supervision of the Minister charged with the responsibility for Culture as provided under the law and empowered to pivot towards the effective implementation of anti-piracy measures in the digital environment.
- The National Assembly should act with despatch to ensure the promulgation into law of the new Copyright Bill which contains several provisions to properly deal with the infringement of copyright in the digital era.
- Necessary action should be taken to get the National Endowment Fund for the Arts up and running so that there are resources to take care of funding for creative projects and the welfare of creative people who have fallen into hard times.
COSON also used the opportunity to unveil the ‘Music for National Stability’ Project; which aims at ensuring the music industry not only provide entertainment but play a major role in nation building.
The COSON ‘Music for National Stability’ project which will be engaged in:
- the building of significant public awareness and support for the new national fight against piracy of music, movies, literature, broadcast content, software, etc, which is undermining investments in the Nigerian creative industry;
- the vigorous promotion of the Nigerian Music Industry to contribute more meaningfully to the nation’s GDP;
- The mounting of a potent campaign against hate speech in Nigeria which is threatening ethnic harmony and peace in the country.
The COSON GM also disclosed that the massively awaited seven spectacular events of COSON Week 2017 holding from October 29 to November 4, will have the ‘Music for National Stability’ project as the core of each of the seven events.