Govt to partner stakeholders in renewed fight against piracy

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

Minister unveils funding plan for arts

The Federal Government has said it would work with relevant bodies to fight the piracy of intellectual property in the country.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance in Lagos at the weekend, at his maiden roundtable with stakeholders in the movie industry, tagged ‘Redefining The Nollywood Strategy’.

While enumerating the adverse impact of piracy, which he said has become ‘’a monstrous disincentive to the creative industry,’’ the Minister revealed that the government is committed to battling piracy, as exemplified by the President’s directive to the relevant agencies to reduce the menace to the barest minimum.

“My immediate suggestion is for us to declare piracy as an economic crime, have a regulatory direction, domesticate most of the international conventions on piracy, review and strengthen existing copyrights law as well as make the punishment more stringent.”

“Perhaps a longer jail term with no option of fine and a speedy trial of suspects as we have in other countries will help in this fight. I think also that the entertainment industry is ripe enough to have a dedicated National Task Force on Piracy,” he said.

Mohammed, who acknowledged lack of funding as another major challenge facing the movie industry, said the establishment of a National Endowment for the Arts would help tackle that challenge not only for the movie industry but the entire creative industry.

“Like the American model, we should at this time-when we are trying to streamline spending-think of having a properly established National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that will service all genre of the arts. I have no doubt that the establishment of NEA will facilitate the introduction of tax rebates as incentives for sponsors of the arts and will give prime place to the arts and culture sector in budgeting processes, since it has capacity to create massive job opportunities.”

‘’The good news is that, as part of our massive social intervention policy, this administration has made available the sum of N500 billion to be accessed by creative people like you as well as artisans, market women, unemployed youths and others,” he said.

Responding on behalf of the Nollywood stakeholders at the meeting, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun, commended the Minister for his in-depth knowledge of the industry.

“You have enumerated everything that is bedeviling the industry these past years, even proffering solutions before hearing us,” he said.

Balogun, who is the Chairman of the Audio-Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), called for the overhaul of the regulatory agencies in the ministry and the appointment of people with requisite qualification, understanding, experience and exposure to man the agencies for optimal performance.



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