THE Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) hosted the Copyright Awareness Forum, shedding light on an untapped economic opportunity that Nigerian writers and publishers have failed to explore. The event focused on the theme ‘Reproduction Rights: Concepts, Perspectives, and Benefits for the Nigerian Book Industry’ and took place during the 22nd edition of the Nigeria International Book Fair 2023, a global platform for showcasing literary works.
The workshop featured notable speakers and experts in Reprographic management from Europe and Africa, including representatives from the International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organizations (IFRRO). Sarah Tran, IFRRO Consultant for Policy and Communication, and Olav Stokmmo, Consultant on WIPO-IFRRO Project, virtually joined the event to discuss the work of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations and the potential benefits of reproduction rights for local affiliates and members. Dora Makwinja, Chairperson of the IFRRO African Committee and CEO of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), as well as Joseph Gyamfi, Executive Director for CopyGhana, also participated remotely to enrich the discussions on reproduction rights.
Tran and Stokmmo provided global perspectives on the advantages of being part of IFRRO, emphasizing the cross-border rewards available to creatives. Makwinja and Gyamfi, on the other hand, delivered a reproduction rights crash course specifically tailored for the Nigerian book industry. They highlighted the need for Nigeria to seize this revenue source, which other African countries have been benefiting from for a long time. The speakers urged the current management of the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) to be proactive in ensuring that members can finally reap the rewards of their creative endeavours, which have been hindered by past inefficiencies and shortcomings in managing the rights of members.
Makwinja, expressing disappointment, pointed out that Nigeria should be leading the way in establishing a robust reproduction rights regime for other African countries to follow. She lamented Nigeria’s lag behind smaller countries and shared that Malawi, with its smaller population, collects over USD$240,000 annually from reproduction rights. Makwinja raised the question of how much Nigeria could collect if the proper structures were in place.
REPRONIG Chairman, Mr. Adedapo Gbadega
However, the new leadership of REPRONIG, headed by Mr Gbadega Adedapo, CEO of Accessible Publishers Ltd (formerly Rasmed Publishers Ltd), is determined to rectify the management of reproduction rights for authors and publishers. Adedapo, a reputable publisher in the industry who had previously served as the President of the Nigerian Book Fair Trust, elevated the book fair to its current enviable position. Even amidst the challenges of the Covid pandemic, he successfully organized a virtual book fair – The first of its kind in Africa. As the new chairman of REPRONIG, Adedapo pledges to bring his expertise to ensure that writers and publishers benefit from their works being reproduced across the country.
In his welcome address, Adedapo emphasized that REPRONIG is the only Reprographic Rights Organization (RRO) in Nigeria responsible for managing the secondary rights of authors and publishers. He acknowledged the contributions of past leaders of the organization, stating, “You don’t build on nothing; you build on something.”
With the launch of its First National Awareness Program, REPRONIG aims to ignite a transformation in Nigeria’s reproduction rights landscape, unlocking a lucrative avenue for Nigerian writers and publishers. Through the concerted efforts of industry leaders and a renewed commitment to efficient management, the potential for economic growth and recognition of Nigerian literary works is within reach.
In a remarkable acknowledgement, Adedapo commended the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) for its incredible contribution to the transformation of REPRONIG into a platform that safeguards the rights of authors, publishers, and other stakeholders in the book industry. He particularly lauded the government agency for facilitating the enactment of an Act aimed at combating piracy in the country, which led to the establishment of a new copyright regime. However, Adedapo expressed concern that many individuals involved in the book ecosystem remain unaware of the organization’s role, prompting the need for a workshop at a prominent event like the book fair.
“It is evident that a significant number of individuals in the book industry are not fully acquainted with the breadth of REPRONIG’s operations,” he stated. “Consequently, we have taken the initiative to organize an awareness program centred around the theme of ‘Reproduction Rights: Concepts, Perspectives, and Benefits for the Nigerian Book Industry.’ The primary objective of this forum is to educate industry professionals about the vital role that reproduction rights play in the book industry, as well as to deepen their understanding of the diverse concepts, perspectives, and benefits associated with these rights.”
Adedapo elaborated on REPRONIG’s core mission, stating, “REPRONIG’s primary focus is bridging the gap between right holders such as authors and publishers and the users, thereby facilitating secondary financial benefits through the controlled use of their works. The organization ensures that authors and publishers receive fair compensation for their efforts, stemming from infringements such as photocopying, scanning, electronic storage of printed materials, and other unauthorized uses of copyrighted works.”
“As an initiative of the NCC, we are one of the three Copyright Management Organizations (CMOs) established in Nigeria,” Adedapo explained. “While REPRONIG oversees reprography and other literary works, the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) handles the collection and distribution of music royalties, and the Audio-Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS) serves as the collective management organization for audio-visual works and cinematograph films.”
While authors and publishers can benefit from REPRONIG’s licensing, collection, and distribution services, Adedapo emphasized the need for registration and appropriate sign-up. He clarified that only those who have registered with REPRONIG could benefit from the royalties received, emphasizing the transparency of the process, which is duly supervised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission. This approach serves as an incentive for creativity and investment in the book industry, ultimately leading to the development of a thriving and dynamic sector that benefits all stakeholders.
The chairman bemoaned the inadequate state of reproduction rights collection in Nigeria, echoing Makwinja’s stance. “It is regrettable that we have not been successful in this aspect in Nigeria. We are honoured to have a distinguished panel of experts and stakeholders online sharing their knowledge and experiences with us today. This forum presents a unique opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions and learn from one another as we strive to enhance our understanding of reproduction rights and their relevance to the Nigerian book industry.”
Adedapo emphasized the invaluable benefits of reproduction rights, stating, “The significance of protecting the rights of authors and publishers cannot be overstated. By doing so, we foster a culture of creativity, innovation, and knowledge dissemination. We express our gratitude to the NCC for making this a reality through the recent enactment of the New Copyright Act 2022. Moreover, the recognition and protection of reproduction rights are pivotal in combating piracy, counterfeiting, and unauthorized use of copyrighted material, all of which pose substantial threats to the sustainability of the book industry. By raising awareness and promoting understanding of reproduction rights, we can instil a culture of respect for intellectual property and advance the development of a robust and sustainable book industry in Nigeria.”
Adedapo also acknowledged the significant role played by the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) in advocating for the rights of authors, publishers, and other creative professionals and promoting the recognition and protection of reproduction rights worldwide. He urged unity of purpose within the reproduction rights sector, stating, “Let us collaborate to create a more vibrant and sustainable book industry in Nigeria, one that recognizes and protects the reproduction rights of authors, publishers, and other creative professionals in the book ecosystem.”
Additionally, he unveiled the organization’s new user-friendly website, www.repronig.com, as a platform to learn more about REPRONIG’s activities.