ADDRESS BY MR. MAHMOOD ALI-BALOGUN, CHAIRMAN AUDIO VISUAL RIGHTS SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (AVRS) AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE APPROVAL OF AVRS AS A CMO BY NCC ON DEC. 2, 2014.
The process of establishing a collective management organization (CMO) for audiovisual works began at the Consultation Meetings organized by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), NCC (Nigerian Copyright Commission) and NFC (Nigerian Film Corporation) in April and September 2012. The unanimous decision of the participants at those meetings was to “Establish a CMO for Film and TV Rights Holders”; that is a collective management that would benefit all rights holders in the industry, both economically and from efficiency perspective. Collective management as a collaborative effort works on not-for-profit basis, as the revenue collected by a CMO is money that it holds in trust for rights holders.
In order to prepare a concrete plan of action, a small preparatory working body of 9 persons was established. Mahmood Ali-Balogun was endorsed to coordinate the work to start promptly. The task of the preparatory body was to prepare a blueprint to stakeholders by September 30, 2012. The plan was then submitted to the joint platform of various stakeholders for discussion and decision, with the aim to have necessary structures in place by December 2012.
NFC provided its premises for meetings and discussions, including secretarial assistance.
Cooperation with NCC was an important part of the preparation and a condition for its successful completion. The Commission provided the necessary regulatory guidance with WIPO also supporting.
As cooperation among audiovisual industry stakeholders is considered a prerequisite for successful operation, inclusiveness of the platform is essential, therefore the existence of existing coalitions, in terms of guild and associations was taken into account from the very beginning.
Experiences from Nigeria in the field of collective management of music as well as developments in Ghana in the audiovisual field was studied. Good governance of collective management, including transparency standards, is considered to be one of the key elements in the successful establishment and operations of a CMO and this was ensured.
At the September 2012 meeting concrete steps were taken towards the establishment of a joint CMO. Memorandum and Articles of Association were presented, discussed and agreed in principle. The name of the CMO was decided to be Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS).
A national workshop was held on May 13, 2013 at the premises of NFC in Ikoyi in Lagos. The aim of the workshop was to discuss issues that are necessary for the next step in the formation of AVRS. Participants were also enlightened on the work of CMOs and the rights and responsibilities of members by representatives from WIPO and NCC.
By July 12, 2013, AVRS was registered by CAC as a company limited by guarantee. The certificate of registration by CAC was a pre-requisite for making an application to NCC for a license to operate as a CMO.
By the end of July 2013, the subscribers to AVRS held an election as required by its Articles of Association that ushered in its directors (names), who at its first board meeting in September 2013, elected Mr. Ali-Balogun as its Chairman. In place is a management team of licensing manager, account manager, licensing officer and General Manager, Ms. Eme Akiba-Eyo, running the company.
An application for a CMO license was made to NCC by AVRS in January 2014.
After what the DG of NCC described as a painstaking process of verification and assessment, the commission came to the conclusion that AVRS has complied with all relevant statutory requirements, under the Copyright Act, cap C28, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004; and the Copyright (CMO Regulations) 2007; a process the Hon. Minister of Justice also described as transparent and painstaking, the Nigerian Copyright Commission on November 20, 2014 in Abuja, then presented to AVRS the Certificate of Approval to operate as the sole collective management organization for audio visual works, comprising of films and other audio visual works in broadcast media and similar media!
We want to appeal to every stakeholder, especially users of audio visual works that it is no longer business as usual. Compensation must be paid for every use of our intellectual property by every broadcast media or organizations that use our works for profitability. Goal posts have moved, licenses must be obtained for the exploitation of films and broadcast works. The labour of our creators past and present must not only be in vain but must be compensated now!
For our colleagues in the IP business, it is time to jump unto the train before it gathers speed. Yes, for us to have a relevant and working CMO more advocacy and enlightenment is required but the time to join is now.
AVRS is willing to dialogue with every stakeholder and our friends from the press on the best way forward; the board and the management are available at your behest or otherwise for us to jaw jaw, we need your cooperation and understanding to succeed on this journey.
I cannot conclude without acknowledging the support of these institutions WIPO, NCC, NFC, COSON, NORCODE and great individuals Chief Tony Okoroji, Mr, Michael Akpan, Ms Tarja Ollson and my lovely wife Nkechi Ali-Balogun; I cannot forget my colleagues on the board, the subscribers and members of the audio visual community and of everyone here.
So, Gentlemen of the press, I present to you the Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS) Limited by Guarantee and its board of directors, to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind.
Long live AVRS!
Long live the creative community!!
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
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