Netflix: Nollywood needs to protect its intellectual property – Expert

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The Nigerian creative space, especially Nollywood needs strengthened copyright laws, with the entrance of Netflix into the industry, copyright expert, Samuel Andrews says.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in March, streaming giant Netflix announced their grand entry into the Nigerian market and have since commissioned a series led by Akin Omotoso.

Analysing Nollywood’s position with the new attention, Andrews, who is a professor of intellectual property, University of Gondar in Ethiopia said that it was a welcome development as it would give the industry increased visibility.

He, however, noted that it gives Nigerian filmmakers a strategy to combat the adverse impact of piracy in Nigeria, a digital takeover began by IrokoTV in 2011, according to the Conversation.com.

Andrews added that Netflix investment is great but Nollywood stakeholders might lack the requisite knowledge for maximising the new resources that depend on certain legal fundamentals.

He asked, “Are Nollywood filmmakers and stakeholders conversant with the ownership rights regime in the evolving digital copyright era?

“Will Nollywood get value for its rich creative resources when negotiating across licensing and other transactional platforms?

“How well would the Nigerian intellectual property laws – particularly its copyright laws – protect Nollywood creators in dealings with Netflix and other sophisticated partners? Nollywood is disadvantaged at present, but there is hope,” Andrews said.

He decried the poor state of Nigeria’s copyright laws as they do not reflect the present realities in the creative sector, especially when it comes to licensing.

NAN reports that the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) led the charge to change intellectual property laws to respond to digital creations and protect creativity.

The outcome is the current global digitalised intellectual property regimes. Nigeria, with its archaic copyright regime, still lags behind.

The country’s copyright laws and others which may complement copyright – including torts, contract and e-commerce laws – have not been updated since 1999.

Worried, Andrews asked, “How can Nigerian creatives thrive globally if the minimum threshold for protecting their content isn’t modernised?”

Contrasting Nollywood’s lag and Netflix’s legal leverage, he said, “Being the most successful video streaming platform, Netflix possesses the resources to protect its legal and business interest.

“Some commentators believe that it might become a monopoly in the streaming industry. This scenario will adversely affect Nollywood by limiting the bargaining space for alternatives.

“If these concerns are not properly addressed, Nollywood creators may be operating in an unequal legal and economic environment which favours the video-on-demand partners,” he said.

To combat the gap, Andrews recommended that Nollywood stakeholders stick together and the proposed amended copyright bill be passed into law as soon as possible.

NAN reports that he also recommended that Nollywood collaborates with experts in economics, analytics, statistics and adjacent fields to measure work value.

He advised that Nollywood should also focus on the economics of creativity, as the industry needs metrics to track and measure skills and output of performances. (NAN)

– Mar. 22, 2020 @ 14:35 GMT |

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