Nigeria has provided instruments of ratification of four copyright treaties to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
These instruments of ratification, which refer to letters signed by a head of government concerning a treaty, were delivered to WIPO director-general Francis Gurry at the 57th general assembly of the organisation, which is the “the central hub for global IP [intellectual property] infrastructure”, on 2 October.
The documents were handed to Gurry by Nigeria’s permanent representative the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), Audu Kadiri, and the director-general of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Afam Ezekude.
The handover of the instruments of ratification asserts Nigeria’s agreement to requirements of the treaties. According to a statement, the four treaties include “the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities.”
The first two treaties are commonly called Internet Treaties. They represent the push by copyright bodies against intellectual property problems presented by the Internet. Although presented on 2 October, the instruments of ratification were signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on 24 August.
“With the ratification of the four treaties, Nigeria is about to witness a new era in its intellectual property protection policy and legislation,” Ezekude said. “The development again underscores the urgent need to enact a new copyright legislation that will implement the standards stipulated in the treaties.
“The ratification of the treaties affirms Nigeria’s acceptance and its undertaking to faithfully perform and carry out obligations under the treaties. Nigeria stands to derive benefits from this instrument when its provisions are eventually domesticated in the revised copyright bill being proposed by the NCC.”
Gurry said Nigeria’s submission of the documents showed commitment to the protection of performers, artists and composers.
While Nigeria’s endorsement of the treaties is bound to excite the country’s artists and such bodies as the Copyright Society of Nigeria, the process by which these treaties come into effect is incomplete. The Beijing Treaty, in particular, which concerns audiovisual materials and was adopted in 2012, requires instruments of ratification from at least 30 countries. So far, it has been ratified by about a dozen countries.