The first draft of an Intellectual Property (IP) Policy for Nigerian universities will soon be finalised by Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), working with the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Director-General of NCC, Mr. John O. Asein and Secretary-General of the AVCNU, Professor Yakubu Aboki Ochefu, gave this indication at a consultative meeting during a visit of the executives of AVCNU to the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja recently.
The Director-General said the Commission would fast-track work on the draft IP Policy with a view to entrenching a credible copyright culture in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
“The adoption and implementation of an IP Policy in universities will guide lecturers, students and librarians on their copyright obligations and address the allocation of rights in our institutions of higher learning,” he stated.
Mr. Asein also noted that implementation of an IP Policy would boost the Commission’s national anti-piracy campaign and enhance research and the use of IP knowledge in Nigerian universities. This, he asserted, has become even more imperative in light of the attitudinal changes brought about in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He decried the lack of copyright policy guidelines for library users in most Nigerian universities resulting in unregulated photocopying by students to the financial detriment of authors. He, therefore, urged AVCNU to assist in the implementation of the understanding earlier reached between the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) and the AVCNU on behalf of the Universities.
The Director-General remarked that it was an irony that universities were not eager to obtain licences despite the fact that most of the authors would be among the primary beneficiaries. He also advised REPRONIG to explore ways of ensuring that those universities that signed up for its licence obtained value for money.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General of AVCNU, Professor Yakubu Aboki Ochefu, thanked the NCC DG for assisting with the development of a model IP Policy for Nigerian Universities. He disclosed that the plagiarism detection software, Eaglescan, introduced recently for use in Nigerian Universities has helped to check the incidence of plagiarism and copyright abuses in the universities.
The Secretary-General observed that copyright has become a critical issue in Nigerian universities in view of the increasing relevance of the virtual learning environment occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. He expressed concern that many universities in Nigeria have no copyright policy and assured that the AVCNU would support the Commission in the development and adoption of the proposed IP Policy for universities to enrich the academic and research culture.
Professor Ochefu further indicated interest in the operations of the Nigerian Copyright Academy (NCA) and assured the Commission that AVCNU would work with the Academy to promote copyright education and enlightenment in the country, especially in the university system.
The visit of the AVCNU officials to the Commission is a follow up to an earlier visit of the NCC management team to the Association’s secretariat in February this year during which the Director-General of NCC advocated the urgent need for a model IP Policy for Nigerian Universities.
Vincent A. Oyefeso
Director, Public Affairs