Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 26-27, November 2000 


Reprography and copyright in Nigeria

Ajibola Maxwell Oyinloye
Ajibola Maxwell Oyinloye is the Collection Development Librarian of Lagos State University Library, PMB 1087, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. +234 1 884043 (tel).

There is a shortage of the books needed in Nigeria to establish and sustain literacy. Indigenous publishers cannot meet the growing demand for books, and 80 per cent of books in tertiary institutions are imported from overseas. Nigeria's economic downturn and the inflationary pressure resulting from currency devaluation have made the situation worse. The soaring cost of paper and printing means that a locally-produced book is likely to cost the equivalent of a month's take-home pay for a lecturer.

Booksellers are finding it difficult to sell their wares. In the universities, many students cannot afford to buy books. They rely heavily on the libraries in their institutions, but the libraries' stock of books and journals is inadequate and non-current. Lack of foreign exchange for imported books and insufficient local production have resulted in a shortage of essential reading materials in educational institutions. The result is unbridled use of photocopying.

There is a growing culture of students and lecturers relying on photocopies, with lecturers selling handouts as a substitute for books. Thousands of pages of authors' works are photocopied daily without being paid for. This unauthorised photocopying of intellectual works is an infringement of copyright regulations - authors of books and other literary materials should not be made to suffer from the impact of modern technologies. Writing is slow, cerebral, strenuous and can be risky. Authors deserve to reap the fruits of their labour.

A workshop in reprography held in Ibadan in 1995 observed 'that the emergence of new technologies poses a threat to the economic rights of authors and publishers in Africa'. One of the recommendations of the workshop was that 'appropriate levies should be imposed on equipment and materials capable of being used for reprographic infringements and that reproduction centres and mass users should be licensed'. This is an appropriate position to take. Nigeria is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works, and, as a member of the UN, to the Universal Convention.

The Nigerian Copyright Council (NCC), established in 1989, is the statutory body charged with the administration of all copyright matters in Nigeria. The Nigerian Copyright Act of 1988, amended in 1992, provides for the effective protection of copyright works. The NCC runs seminars and workshops to educate not only the populace on copyright but also the authors themselves. The launching of the national anti-piracy campaign in 1991 was commendable, but the flagrant abuse of copyright through unauthorised photocopying by students and lecturers clearly shows that rights owners and academics do not demonstrate full understanding of the law.

The NCC should find a way of enforcing copyright on photocopies, and could borrow a leaf from Kopinor, the Norwegian agency that licenses and collects rights from photocopy vendors in Norway. But the issue of copyright cannot be decided by the NCC alone; a form of co-operation and engagement with other bodies involved in the book trade - publishers, booksellers, librarians, student bodies, university administration etc - is absolutely necessary. Copyright should be introduced into the country's educational curriculum. Government must endeavour to develop local publishing and create an enabling environment for book production. A book policy for the country should be put in place. This may be the solution to the problem. [end] [BPN, no 26–27, 2000, p. 24.]

^^Back to top

Return to table of contents for BPN Newsletter 26-27, 2000>>

home about us news resources subscribe
newsletter forum search

© Bellagio Publishing Network 2002-2005.

Go to Top Go to top
Go to top Go to Top