Monday, 30 March 2015

Nigeria: 'Copyright piracy is a cyber security matter,' says President Goodluck Jonathan

When you want to win an election (especially in Nigeria where unfortunately Boko Haram should be at the top of your agenda) the last thing you’d expect from the aspirant is a chat about IP and the creative industries. [Afro Leo says he has never heard the UK Prime Minster, David Cameron, mention IP - not even during his first pre-election TV debate]

Thanks to the youthful MTV Base, this Leo was delighted to watch President Jonathan demonstrating that he knows a thing or two about the purpose of IP and the bane of every entertainment industry, piracy. [For this you may just watch from 2:00 to 4:30]

President Jonathan was asked about the government’s plans to curb piracy and address the issue of royalties. In his response, the President first displayed an understanding of the economic rights aspect of copyright and appreciated the importance of Nigeria's entertainment industry. He then rightly acknowledged that piracy can only be minimised (not eradicated), and said his administration had just launched three security strategy documents, one of which considers piracy a security matter. [Afro Leo says President Jonathan has his vote, just for this. He hopes that the NSA will eventually post these documents online, somewhere, so IP/IT folk can have a look]

It isn't surprised that the President focused on (or, to be frank, could only refer to) the film industry. Why? Well, most importantly: (a) It helped catapult Nigeria’s GDP overnight under his administration; and (b) It has received the most attention and support (albeit with criticism) under his administration. In terms of solutions, the President also emphasised the need for more cinemas to help the industry move away from the direct-to-video model (see previous Afro-IP musings here and here).

However, this Leo didn't see the piracy vis-à-vis cyber crime angle coming. He thought it was for economies with better internet infrastructure and 'larger intangible assets to protect' such as the US (also here, here and here) or emerging software hotspots like India. In any case, Afro Leo is certain that the software industry will be very pleased with Nigeria’s foresight/preparedness considering its digital ambitions.

Are other African countries taking similar policy steps, particularly South Africa (see Afro-IP’s copyright piracy case in RSA)?

Extra reading
Curbing software piracy in Nigeria: Problems and solutions are here
Mcafee counting the global cost of cyber crime including piracy can be found here and here
Cyber crimes against property (Cyber squatting & Software piracy): An Indian perspective is here
The Philippines’ new cyber crime law, covering IP infringement penalties, is here

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