The Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) has received more support in its effort to enter into licensing agreements with tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Rising from a two-day meeting held in Abuja from 8 to 9 August, 2017, the National Working Group on Copyright Licensing in Tertiary Institutions, among other things, observed the need for affordable, convenient, timely and flexible access to materials in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. It was noted that the prevalence of unauthorized access via reprography and digital downloads remains a major issue in Nigeria and that it was practically impossible for authors to know all the places where their works are used or to negotiate payment terms, hence, the need for collective administration of rights. It was also acknowledged that Nigeria was losing huge revenue from poor handling of copyright issues, a situation that called for more cooperation and collaboration if collective administration was to succeed.

After careful deliberations, the meeting developed a framework for the introduction and management of copyright licensing agreements in tertiary institutions and further made specific recommendations that licence agreements should be made with the Tertiary Institutions, subject to review every three (3) years.

Other recommendations made at the end of the meeting are that:
(1) The agreements should include a clause specifying that parties are free to agree on rolling over of agreements or review based on the results of a survey.
(2) The tariff payable under the agreements should be based on the number of students per institution.
(3) The permissible limit of reproduction under the licence should be restricted to not more than 20% of the material.
(4) The scope of the licence agreement should include both hard copy and digital materials.
(5) REPRONIG should expedite the process of securing bilateral agreements with more reproduction rights organisations in order to gain wider access to quality foreign materials.
(6) The licence agreement should provide for flexibility on allowable alternative formats for visually impaired and print disabled users.

The Working Group meetings, which was organised by REPRONIG in collaboration with Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) (representing 153 Vice Chancellors of Nigerian public and private Universities) had in attendance representatives of the AVCNU; the National Board for Technical Education (the regulatory body responsible for Polytechnics); Association of Nigerian Authors; Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Publishers Association; Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria; REPRONIG; and LawPavilion (a private e-publisher). The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) participated as observers. The Working Group was chaired by Prof. Aize Obayan, (former Vice Chancellor of Covenant University and Landmark University).

Inaugurating the Working Group, the Director General of the NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude noted that over time, technology, has brought in various means of reproduction which pose a threat to the protection and management of authors’ rights calling for new approaches in protection and managing of rights, hence the need for a strong synergy between right owners, investors in creative ventures and public institutions as well as commercial enterprises. He commended the initiative of an inclusive approach to its licensing drive and hoped that the effort will achieve the set objective of recommending appropriate strategies to ensure that authors of copyright works and tertiary institutions maximize the benefits derivable from the copyright collective management system to meet their licensing obligations.

The main Facilitator at the technical session was Mr. Jim Alexander, as International Consultant at the instance of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Presentations were made by Mr. Jim Alexander and other experts, including Mr. John Asein, Executive Director, REPRONIG, Mr. Isa Afegbua, a University Librarian, and Mr. Mike Akpan, Director, Regulatory Department, NCC.

Participants expressed gratitude to the resource persons, IFRRO, WIPO WIPO, NCC and AVCNU for contributing to the success of the meeting. They also thanked the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE) for the support that it has continued to give to REPRONIG in its on-going restructuring and activity plan under which the meeting was organised. They further expressed confidence in the present Board and Management of REPRONIG and commended them for the initiative.

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