New CMO For Nollywood Secures Stakeholders’ Endorsement
IF the large turnout of stakeholders at the maiden edition of the stakeholders forum organised by the Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), the nation’s sole collective management organization for cinematograph films is to be considered, then the body may have taken off on a good note. The well-attended and star-studded forum, the first with stakeholders but one of several the AVRS leadership has held since its formal licensing late last year, was held on February 19, 2015 at the exquisite Planet One Entertainment Centre, Maryland, Lagos.
Addressing over 300 movie practitioners who attended the Forum, Chairman of the Society, Mahmood Ali-Balogun explained at the start of the forum that the cardinal objective of the Forum was to enlighten stakeholders in the film and broadcast industry on the purpose, nature and operations of AVRS. He also said that the forum was held to explain to the stakeholders ‘’their rights and obligations to the Society’’ with a view to establishing cordial working relationships with various stakeholders in the film industry.
Ali-Balogun traced the background to the formation of AVRS, citing the need to strengthen capacity of industry practitioners to fight piracy, as well as the clamour for royalties and residual income as fundamental reasons that led to the establishment of a CMO for the audio-visual sector.
With the formation of AVRS and its approval to function as a CMO by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Ali-Balogun told his colleagues that the time was due for rigorous and extensive sensitization of all stakeholders comprising industry practitioners and commercial users of audio visual content across the country. ‘’We are going to get everyone well-informed on their duties, rights and obligations’’’ he said even as he stressed the need for all prospective members of AVRS – producers, directors, screen writers, lead actors and actresses – to endeavour to become formally registered members and assignors to the Society, as according to him ‘’the strength of a CMO usually derives from the number of mandates it has in repertoire, based on which it could commence licensing users of works of its members on all platforms’’.
Also speaking, the General Manager of AVRS, Barrister Eme Akiba-Eyo outlined to stakeholders the benefits of membership of AVRS and threw light on the nature and operations of the Society. In her words, “AVRS is a company limited by guarantee and approved to function as a CMO by the regulatory agency being the Nigerian Copyright Commission. For avoidance of doubt it is neither a guild nor an association but a corporate organization duly incorporated to operate in accordance with the provisions of its memorandum and articles of association, section 39 of the Nigerian Copyright Act, and the Collective Management Organizations Regulations 2007. As film producers, directors, screen writers, lead actors and actresses, your membership of AVRS guarantees earning of royalties and the peace of mind which comes with knowing that while you engage in your various creative efforts, AVRS is busy working round the clock as your watchdog against unauthorised exploitation of your works.”
In his goodwill message, the Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude, represented by Barrister Obi Ezeilo, congratulated AVRS for convening the stakeholders’ forum and charged practitioners to close ranks and work collectively towards achieving the goals of the Society. The NCC Boss advised stakeholders to avoid any indulgence that may weaken the capacity of AVRS to deliver on its mandate.
There were several interventions from guest and stakeholders at the forum. For instance, the General Manager of Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, in his remarks expressed happiness that AVRS was making steady progress but warned that the journey ahead would demand serious sacrifice without which the set objectives would not be achieved.
The CEO of Wawoo TV, Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, who was a part sponsor of the event, commended AVRS but bluntly admonished all stakeholders to eschew rancour and work in one accord towards the overall benefit of the industry.
A very significant part of the event was the interactive session during which participants asked questions bothering on membership procedure, assignment of rights, licensing, distribution of royalties, enforcement of rights, and the now prevalent digital streaming of audio visual content. And the Directors of AVRS who were present at the event including Barrister Tunji Bamishigbin, Chief Gabriel Okoye (Igwe Gabosky), Sir Emmanuel Isikaku, Otunba Aina Kushoro, Mr. Fidelis Duker, Mrs. Emem Isong-Misodi, and Prince Jide Kosoko provided answers to the questions posed by stakeholders.
Anchored by Mr. Francis Onwochei who is also a Director of AVRS, dignitaries at the event included film maker and former Managing Director of Nigerian Film Corporation, Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, president of Theatre Arts and Movie Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) Yemi Sholade, president of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP), Comrade Victor Ashaolu, top Nollywood Producers, directors, actors, actresses and marketers including Mr. Dejumo Lewis, Mr. Emeka Ossai, Chief Cosmos Ndulue, Sunny McDon, Zeb Ejiro, Alex Enyengho, Chico Ejiro, Abbey Lanre, Adewale Elesho, Nobert Ajaegbu, Ralph Nwadike, Aisha Abimbola and a host of others.
The forum recorded a broad-based participation by members of various Nollywood guilds and associations, prominent among which are the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP), Theatre Arts and Movie Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Film and Video Producers & Marketers of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP), Motion Picture Distributors of Nigeria (MOPIDON) and the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN).
The success of the Lagos stakeholders’ Forum is viewed as a gateway to more successful outings as the train moves to other film production hubs across the country in the weeks ahead.