Copyright Commission urges publishers to embrace digital technology



By Deji Abdulwahab
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has called on publishers to make their literary works accessible to readers through digital marketing model and technology.

Its Director-General, Dr John Asein, gave the advice at the 2022 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA) in Abuja.

Theme of the conference was: “Redefining Publishing and Reading Culture in a Digital Era’’.

Asein said that if publishers could explore the potential of the digital technology, their literary works would have wide coverage and readership instead of stocking them on the shelves, waiting for the buyers.

He allayed the fear of some publishers who believed that they would lose their investments to online publication.

“The publishers should not fear the digital environment, bearing in mind that there are safeguards in the digital space and digital technology.

“What they need to do is to ensure that their business model changes to fit into digital eco-system.

“This means that readers must subscribe before they can access the books online,’’ director-general said.

According to him, if publishers are able to embrace digital marketing space, they will be able to sell more, using third party or other services.

“So, there is no reason to fear, it is just for them to make adjustments in their model.

“Hopefully, the users such as schools and other readers will also make adjustments that will enable them to take full advantage of the potential of the digital environment,’’ he said.

Asein also urged the online marketing service providers not to distribute pirated literary and musical works, saying that the copyright law criminalised such act.

“The law criminalises the distribution of pirated products such as books and music.

“So, any online service provider that sells a book and that book is found to be pirated is primarily responsible.

“What we advise them to do is to have due diligence. When they are in doubt, they should speak to the Nigerian Copyright Commission.

“We are also reaching out to them to design a protocol that they will have to follow before they enlist any property supplier in the chain.

“So, through that protocol, we will be able to guide them on what they need to do and confirm.

“They must have good right clearance mechanism so that the person selling will show how he or she got that works,’’ he said.

In a keynote address, Prof. Adamu Usman, said there are more advantages of having a digital publishing platform than working with a traditional publishing house.

According to Usman, digital publishing ease of producing and distributing books makes it more attractive than the traditional publishing, which is more cumbersome, expensive and dilatory.

“Because of the perceived advantages of digital publishing, some traditional publishers are gradually shifting toward digital publishing realising that they may not be able to keep their businesses alive by continuing only with traditional publishing.

“Digital publishing uses online tools to make books of all kind available via the Internet.

“Instead of traditionally printed books, magazines and newsletters, digital publishing makes ebooks, blogs and online publications.

“Readers access this content on computers, smartphones or other digital devices.

“To many people out there, digital publishing is better for the readers as well as for the publishers, ” he said.

However, the NPA conferred an Award of Excellence on the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) for the Commission’s contributions to publishing and the protection of copyright in Nigeria.

Other beneficiaries of the NPA Awards were the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). (NAN)