Cracking Digital Music in Nigeria

One of the courses I treated with the greatest disdain in University was GES 101. I can’t  remember the official title of the course now but I do remember that one of the topics was language and how culture and technology affect language. This has been proved true and become more evident as we march forcefully on into the 21st century.  Until about 5 years ago, tablets were medicine, tweets were onomatopoeic sounds, swiping meant stealing and streaming was something only a river or estuary did. The secondary (?) meanings that all these words and many more have acquired, one could argue, are actually close to achieving primary status now.

 

The advances in technology have presented new challenges for distributors of entertainment content. The market is swinging firmly away from scheduled to content to “on demand” or “a la carte”, where the user/consumer merely pays for access and is thereafter able to determine the order in which he will watch or listen to the content.  The consumer could also decide to purchase the content outright, and with purchase comes the ability to move content between storage devices. Delivering content in this manner will require the consumer to have enough space to store his content library. Thus, advances in digital broadcast have also been accompanied by exponential growth in storage technology.

 

A result of all this progress is that while my dad still has a collection of vinyl records occupying roughly twenty cubic feet of space somewhere in my late grandmother’s house, I can carry infinitely larger amounts of music around on a device no larger than my palm. This is good for the honest consumer but it makes piracy a whole lot easier.

 

Forgive me for being Captain Obvious so far, but a context needed to be set.

 

Piracy – in this context, the unauthorised distribution or selling copies of music – has always been with us and will probably always be with us. The problem is worse in many African countries, including Nigeria, where the government’s anti-piracy efforts are extremely feeble where they exist at all. Today, anyone can be a pirate, as is evident with so-called “offline downloads” being the primary concern of many labels and artistes in Nigeria.

 

“Offline downloads” is the copying that goes on, frequently for paltry sums, from laptops or external hard drives to USB storage devices. It has been reported that the “content aggregators” (with sincere apologies to legitimate content aggregators) charge as little as one naira per track copied.  With more and more cars and even portable radios coming with auxiliary USB audio sockets, one can see why members of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) are alarmed.

 

The Nigerian industry is also peculiar in the way its revenue stream works. Piracy killed record sales decades ago. The industry tried to solve this problem by selling record masters to distributors at the major piracy centres (tragically ironic, right?). Even at that, many emerging artistes are willing to give their music away for free on popular blogs and websites in return, hopefully, for exposure and recognition, which ought to translate into touring and performing income.

 

Thus, music is largely freely available on both the supply and demand sides of the music equilibrium. How then can digital translate to money for the local, large-scale distributors?

 

The challenge before Iroking and Spinlet, Nigeria’s two main digital distributors – the companies adopting the Spotify/Deezer models of monetising content – is to convince a large enough number of people to agree that paying for music is worthwhile.  In a country of 160 million people with a median age of 19, the market is certainly there. Potentially.  However, even Spotify, with its 24 million users (6 million of whom are paying subscribers) is yet to turn a profit, in its 7th year of operation. iTunes, it is claimed, is running barely above break-even (another great infographic here for dataheads), though Deezer claims to be profitable.

 

These companies exist in countries with mature copyright enforcement systems, where music royalties have been a dependable source of livelihood since forever. This means that there already exists a culture for paying for music. In spite of this, however, musicians are complaining that the revenue from streaming isn’t anything to get excited about. According to Zoe Keating (crossover classical musician) these are the different streaming rates that various distributors offered her (very useful table, actually). So, if neither the streamers nor the streamed are making money (though this point is heavily disputed), what’s the point of this business model? What will the point of this business model be in Africa, in Nigeria?

 

To understand profitability in the business, one must first understand how the service is priced. Most digital music distributors, in addition to outright sales, have a free (advert-supported) service, a limited subscription service (ad-free, but limited number of streams), and a premium subscription service (ad-free, unlimited streams). Therefore, first of all, the difference between outright sales and streams must be taken into account.

 

A physical CD in Nigeria is usually priced between N150 and N1,500 (not counting “deluxe” editions).  This pricing model can easily be adopted for digital sales. A stream, on the other hand, occurs when a track (not downloaded) is listened to for at least 30 seconds. The minimum listening period varies (some agreements say 45 seconds) but the first problem streaming has is how you quantify a listen. Do you randomly estimate how many listens can be extracted from a CD before it becomes unplayable? If a 9-track album costs N150, this equates to about N16 to “own” each track for life. How many times should a streamer be able to listen to a track before his use translates to N16 for the artist? Is this even the metric that distributors and artists/collecting societies use?

 

Speaking of collecting societies, one must commend COSON and the efforts they have made thus far in ensuring that music makers receive royalties for the use of their music. It is not clear however, whether they will function as an aggregator in respect of their dealings with digital distributors. Their primary revenue targets to date have been radio and tv stations, hotels, events venues, etc. and this category of people should rightly pay COSON a licence fee. However, should an Iroking or a Spinlet pay COSON a licence fee, given that each artist enters into a licensing agreement with the digital distributors? If yes, would that not effectively be double licensing, as the artists will collect under their individual licensing agreements, regardless of whatever fee COSON extracts. More importantly, was it the intention of the artists when joining COSON that the collecting society would take over all licensing activity? These are the issues that will need to be clarified as digital music expands in Nigeria.

 

The Value Added Service (VAS) companies that collaborate with telcos to sell ring-back and call-back tones are currently the silent winners in this quest to monetise digital music. Personally, I would never willingly activate a ring-back tone but I am a single subscriber in a pool expected to surpass 128million by 2014. The VAS market in Nigeria is currently valued at over N78.5bn and “may actually be moving towards $1bn in the next three years” .

 

In addition  to all that’s been said here, artists should consider ditching the “listen for free” model and start steering their fans towards platforms where listening generates them money. This may mean starving the blogs of some content and some blogs therefore going rogue and becoming pirate broadcasters (lawsuits, yaaay!!) but if physical sales are dead, then digital must reward maximally.

As for who will win the race to crack digital music in Nigeria, Iroking and Spinlet need to take on and subdue Deezer and Amazon first and hope that Spotify doesn’t decide to expand its operations to Nigeria before then. The catalogue is everything!

 

 

 

Soldiers of Fortune – A Review

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I’m glad I bought a copy of Max Siollun’s Soldiers of Fortune. Many might say it merely rehashes a lot of information that was already in the public domain but I would strongly disagree. Even if that assertion was true, a compendium of all the information from a pivotal point in the nation’s history can never be a bad thing.

My personal repertoire of the events that have shaped our history has never been more than superficial. No nuggets of particular insight, unless I was chanced to be in the company of someone “in the know”. Soldiers of Fortune puts into perspective many things I was either too young or too unsavvy to understand at the time they happened.

The book’s preface sets the context for the history it recounts, with a summary of transitions from independence to the civil war to the overthrow of the Shagari government, shortly after its “re-election”. Relying on a wide range of sources, from ‘hagiographic autobiographies’ to interviews given by the various actors, the book then surgically considers the events leading up to each intervention by the military, including the unsuccessful ones.

What surprised me most through the book? For one, some coups were instigated by civilians, one of whom became a martyr for democracy, another a perennial applicant for a gubernatorial position in the Niger Delta.

Secondly, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to government proposals. The proposed “entertainment tax” in Lagos State was deployed by the Military Governor of Ogun State in the early 80s. A single 6-year term for executive office holders had been mooted (and rejected by the government of the day) since 1990 or thereabouts.

Thirdly, the June 12 intrigues will surprise a few readers, although I must admit, I found the portrayal of IBB as both orchestrator and victim of the annulment somewhat confusing. It also seems history has been unkind to Prof. Nwosu, chairperson of the electoral commission that organised the elections. I find a quote attributed to our Senate President particularly interesting.

On a personal note, I was at secondary school with the son of one of the officers executed for the “failed” 1986 coup. Siollun actually singles out the officer for being implausibly linked to the plot, having no soldiers or weaponry under his command. I remember the son cursing out Babangida on a few occasions.

Still on 1986, the tragic irony of the case of the officer who was executed for not reporting the rumours he’d heard was very sad. This man had informed General Buhari about rumours of a coup in 1983, not knowing that Buhari himself was at the centre of the plot. Buhari had him arrested and locked up for several months. When he got wind of the Orkar coup, he rightly(?) decided to keep mum and paid for it with his life.

In addition to his meticulous reconstruction of events, Siollun frequently provides analysis to explain rationale and sometimes fill in the gaps that the dramatis personae have left in their accounts.

If there are any lessons to be learnt from this book, it is that all incisive criticism of today’s government is a good thing. Not rabid, senseless expulsion of hot air, but line-by-line examination of government policy. We must also shelve blind nationalism and vainglorious pride – IBB was saluted for rejecting the IMFs conditions but imposed even more stringent conditions than the IMF had requested anyway. So, to all those who keep getting the word “activist” spat at them as if the appellation were some deadly plague, keep the pressure on. Additionally, it is clear that a whole generation will pass before the country’s political landscape is devoid of (de)militarised politicians – many of the beneficiaries of the system from 1983 to 1993 are alive and well; and loaded. Finally, until the Northern part of the country experiences real economic development, some of the thinking of its elite as reported in Soldiers of Fortune, should that line of thought still be prevalent, means that fiscal federalism, devolution of power from the centre and virtually almost all other constitutional reform as it regards the political status quo are an extremely long way away from happening.

My one grouse with the book is its use of endnotes instead of footnotes. I find endnotes impossible to use but this is a person foible and should not detract from the quality of Siollun’s work.

Beat by SARS

Nigeria Police Force

Nigeria Police Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of all the lawyering I have to do, my least favourite “beat” is the police station. Every once or twice a year however, there’s either a distress call from someone whose relative needs bailing or there’s a need to follow up on some matter or the other for someone who’s commissioned an investigation. Neither is a more pleasurable visitation than the other because, as far as the police are concerned, you’re there to negotiate an extraction, be it of a suspect or documentation. Note I said negotiate and not demand, because it’s not law – it’s all a transaction. Bail isn’t free and neither is getting the police to properly do what they ought – investigate and solve crime.

My first post-call visit to a police station was with the Director of Public Prosecutions in Calabar, during my NYSC year. The smell was rancid and there were half-naked men, begging with all the energy that was left in them, that we buy them bread from the girl walking past, hawking. We didn’t (how does the head of prosecutions buy food for suspects while on an official visit?) and it seems one of them broke into tears. I have either carried that rancid stench with me in my head over the years, or all police stations have that combined smell of putrefying bodily waste and grey matter.

Another time, an idiot driving a long vehicle swerved in front of me without warning and took off my entire front bumper. The whole world, including the police at the scene, knew he was liable but he refused to accept (not being the owner of the truck), so we ended up going to the police station. Apart from having to pay a N5,000 “VIO Fee” (there was no inspection) to “bail’ my car, I was shaken by another incident that occurred while I was writing my statement. A man was brought in in cuffs and told to sit beside me on the bench. Apparently, someone had a stabbed a trader and run into this man’s shop and, somehow, he’d allegedly helped the stabber escape. About 10 minutes after he arrived, still sitting beside me, word reached the station that the stabbed trader had died before reaching the hospital. “You’re in big, big trouble, this man,” the arresting officer said and then dealt him that vicious Police/Soldier/MOPOL slap we’ve all heard about. I swear an air tsunami blew from the man’s face to mine, causing my  face to sting.

This past week, I was at a SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad)office, to follow up on an arrest for theft and the ensuing investigation. There were lots of men walking about with automatic weapons and guns always make me edgy. More than this, I was being given the runaround because I was trying to negotiate my way out of a 10% recovery fee. But shhhh!  no one in authority is to know about this . And if you believe our President, quoting an Adolphus Hitler, corruption only exists because we don’t stop talking about it.

While waiting, one police officer, who also finds time to farm, began to complain about the lack of real government support for farming. He ridiculed last year’s telephone intervention, as well as this year’s fertiliser reforms. “They’ve taken our names, for over 5 weeks now, no fertiliser. But I’m sure they’ve used our names to process the money.” Then he segues into how he used to be on patrol at the ports, guarding the fertiliser silos. “They take over 70% to the North”, he alleged, “but it doesn’t even stay there…it crosses the border into Niger and Chad!” Those evil Niger and Chad borders again.

Another officer walked in and complained that the place smelled “like a bloody hospital.” I reckon he was from another division. “Oh, there are robbery suspects next door”, he was informed, “and they have bullet wounds. They get treatment while in custody.” I squirmed a little more.

 

All in One Place: The Limericks of September

NIGERIA – CURRENT AFFAIRS

Our problem is not electric

Though without it, things are hectic

Those things that disturb

Will no more perturb

Once we go biometric

 

We’re lucky to still be alive

Still huffing to try to survive

This week just went past

Dark shadows were cast

As BH snuffed three forty-five

 

He said it with little compunction

It’s proof of our abject dysfunction

It wasn’t a joke

Our prez took a poke

“Nigerians celebrate corruption”

 

So, twitter mirrors life

With all its toils and strife

As we harp on marriage

A Gusau entourage

Of 8,000 want to be wifed

 

They gathered from far for Aliko

Days after the rip from Atiku

To honour the man

Their oil masterplan

No plans of their own, brains like Tico

 

Is Shekau dead or alive?

Does he have 4 lifetimes or 5?

JTF say none

His lifetimes are done

But man, his last video was live.

 

So Jonny the prez rang the bell

A big deal for him, we can tell

But For Those Who Have Died

Whose Bodies Were Fried

The Gong Was, alas, their Death knell

 

Old Goody is off to the Apple

In posse of 600 people

Or 8 score and 10

It’s beyond our ken

The number is simply not simple

 

All over our people are dying

The bombers our fears multiplying

The kill in God’s name

Or so they proclaim

And yet, His Agape defying.

 

CHARLES TAYLOR’S APPEAL

Charles Taylor is not feeling well

He’s finished, far as he can tell

No freedom no more

A 1yr term for

Each diamond to Naomi Campbell

 

Ol’Charlie appealed at The Hague

Convicted on grounds that were vague

Least that’s what he held

His appeal was quelled

A 50-year Term is his plague

 

DAVID “THE HEAVYWEIST BOXER” HAYE

Haye was to box up with Fury

No longer, he’s got an injury

But knowing that guy

He cut up his eye

So he could vacay to Missouri

 

THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Our friend Paul Di Canio got canned

For reasons we all understand

A sole point in five

Machismo alive

It’s time for a gaffer more bland.

 

DiCanio of Wear has been sacked

Tho clearly no Chutzpah was lacked

They said he was mad

Ciao bella,good lad

As only 1 point has been racked

 

Moyes has aged since May

His white hair’s turning grey

Though used to the boos

Can’t walk in those shoes

Can’t make his players play.

 

Manuel and David Moyes

Must worry’bout their boys

And all of the fans

Online and in stands

There, making angry noise

 

The scousers today, game was bent

Lost to the team from the Solent

But Suarez is back

Next week in attack

They must not lose hope or relent

 

José & this matter with Mata

The former does not like the latter

A pity, because

Last season he was

Blues’ best,that’s the truth I don’t flatter

 

Le Prof has finally spent

On class, and not just on rent

From Madrid a thrill

They gave us Özil

To thrive, from whence Bale went.

 

Did you see the fantasy sale

That’s making all football heads wail

The priciest man

In Galactico land

Is Gareth (not Christian) Bale

 

POPE FRANCIS

Habemus a Papam so liberal

A real right wing champion & General

He prays for the gays

No judging, he says

There’s grace for all, urban & rural

 

JAMES AND FK

From London, more Efe bravado

Though he’s still incommunicado

His homes will be sealed

For it’s been revealed

He owns a whole third of Oando

 

The placid interval was short

His mind was to become a fort

But as she denies

Alleges he lies

He’s asked her to meet him in court.

 

He’s had an epiphany

Result of his infamy

Loving or lost

Booming or bust

Discretion’s best says Fani

The Benevolent Dictator Theory

Idi Amin

Idi Amin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When people gather to discuss the future of Nigeria, the consensus is usually 2-pronged. The first is that the brand of democracy we have now clearly is not working. The second is that we are probably screwed if we don’t address our fundamental deficiencies. The third (yes, I know I said two) is that we need a benevolent dictator to set us right.

The mind that proposes a benevolent dictator has probably considered that  returning to military rule would not be a bad option, given how slowly we have moved since 1999. However, that is not a thought that we are allowed to entertain, as constitutional law jingoists insist on drumming it into our heads that “the worst civilian regime is better than the best military rule”.

I think we can agree that the evidence suggests to the contrary. The world’s oldest democracies are in the middle of economic decline (yes, there is the argument that boom and bust are cyclical) and oligarchies like China and the Sultanates and Emirates of the Middle East are prospering. -Ish. We could even throw a Cuba into the mix. Of course, it doesn’t help the argument that Oligarchies and constitutional monarchies (at least the ones referred to here) are totalitarian and slightly repressive but the economic and public administration metrics seem good.

This benevolent dictator matter though. He will be armed with his singularity of vision and purpose, ensure that his corrupt predecessors are forever prevented from returning to public office (many point to Jerry Rawlings and his purge), and not be impeded by the obstacles of democratic checks and balances in achieving the fullest impartation of his benevolence.

How would we choose him, given that choice already negates the concept of dictatorship? And if we don’t get to choose him, how do we determine the level of his benevolence; that he is in fact not malevolent? We might end up celebrating his ascension to power, like the Ugandans did Idi Amin, before realising that we’ve ended up with, well, an Idi Amin.

Further, philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau who gave us the theory of the separation of powers, identified (rightly, in my opinion) the pervasive, heady effect of having absolute power.  It corrupts absolutely. Not going to point fingers at anyone, relax Mr Mugabe.

Which brings me to the matter of the African dictator. This will probably be racist, in as far as a black man can demonstrate racism towards his own ethnic group, but I am thoroughly convinced that a [black] African benevolent dictator cannot stay so for very long. His culture, his family, his friends, his religious ministers, will ensure that he becomes parochial and nepotistic. And nepotism is a cancer – it cannot remain “little” – it will burgeon beyond the control of our benevolent dictator friend. And once our benevolent friend begins to exercise his absolute discretion and power in the favour of a select few…well, history is replete with examples of what happens next.

I usually argue in these discussions that the theory is a reflection of our laziness. We want the finished product without any fire of refinement whatsoever. We want to sit in our corners, minding our own business, tending to our own onions, while our “elected” representatives extort us, pilfer from the public purse, rob us blind and then, flash, bang, a saviour drops out of the sky and delivers us from all the evil. I don’t think this will happen. We are only to get out of this democracy what we put into it. Apathy will ensure that we are governed by the intellectual dregs of society. Abstinence will ensure that we remain infected by the malaise of corruption and maladministration. Indifference will only lead to continued daylight robbery under our very noses.

My riposte to the Benevolent Dictator Theory is the Democratically Aware and Engaged Citizen Theory. What say you?

SOS to NASS – We are not Cashcows

One of the reasons that corruption blooms, grows, flourishes and abounds in Nigeria is the acute, ongoing state of uncertainty concerning most laws and regulations. Many regulations are actually no more than directives – the head of an MDA (governmental Ministry, Department or Agency) wakes up and “proclaims” a new law, upturning the status quo and, many times, bearing penal consequences for violation. See here on the danger in “legislating” by directive.

This is the reason why, if you run into trouble with the law and call your lawyer, he cannot come to your rescue with the swagger of an Alan Shore or a Harvey Specter. He’s never 100% sure of your rights – 99% maybe, but never 100%. He will, most likely, begin to bargain with the POLICE/LASTMA/FRSC/VIO/whoever, trying to call their bluff or negotiate the bribe you need to pay to procure your freedom. Corruption thrives and lawyers turn to bluffers – and that is where we are as a country. That, and the fact that every single government intervention becomes a racket, frustrating Nigerians (like here) – the official route is guaranteed, nay, structured not to work.

The current competition between MDAs to carry out “new” registrations and be the first to tout “biometric data capture” as the be-all and end-all to all our security problems (cue laughter) is leading us down a precarious precipice. Knowing our temperament though, enough will never be enough.

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has ensured that we all cough up a mandatory N60,000 or so, to procure new vehicle license plates and new driver’s licences. The official cost is closer to only half that amount but good luck and patience to anyone going the non-racketeered route. I remember clearly when my dad changed the number on his Renault 9 GTL from OY 727 X to BF 77 BDJ, circa 1989. Olu Agunloye was the head of the FRSC then, and the change was ostensibly an upgrade to a modern, computerised database. Osita Chidoka, citing incomplete records (I monitored one of his interviews on BeatFM Lagos) and the need for an overhaul of the system, set 30th September 2013 as the deadline for the new plates. Government/the civil service screwed up the record-keeping (if he’s actually not merely arranging his golden parachute) but we are carrying the can for them. The same inefficient civil service will administer this new system so, we can expect more laxness and a need for revamping in another 20 years’ time. And, in any event, the “new” plates changed the format from AB123CDE to ABC123DE, and there’s now a splash of green paint in the background. Never mind the fact that, with regard to the “new” driver’s licence, people are being given dates four months into the future (well beyond the implementation/effective date) for their data capture.

Not to be outdone, the Nigerian Police has launched a Biometric Central Motor Registry (BCMR). The BCMR will cost us only N3,500 officially, though experience suggests it will also turn into a racket and we will probably need to pay at least N10,000 and we won’t get the BCMR cards for at least 3 or 4 months after paying. See here for the step-by-step guide to procuring the BCMR.

What are the reasons for the BCMR? According to the Force spokesperson, CSP Frank Mba,

“the decision informing the introduction of the BCMR comes against the backdrop of contemporary security challenges bordering on terrorism, high incidence of car theft, carjacking, kidnapping and other acts of crimes and criminality in our society.”

The newspaper report quotes him further on the features of the BCMR thus –

“BCMR will operate on smart-cards and portable hand-held receiver and is a specially developed technological means of attaching automobile owner’s unique traits and personal data to their vehicles for proper identification and protection purposes. With this forensic analysis, the police claimed that it is designed to match 20 million fingerprints per second which speed depends on the size of registered prints, adding that the system can match 500,000 pictures per minute if you have a registered database of 150 million; the likely match time for facial recognition is about five hours.”

I think this is nothing but a pile of utter bollocks (pardonez-moi). I clearly remember when we had to get ECMRs. We repeatedly pay a government not bound by any data protection law to collect our personal details and hope that they treat it with due care. Not only that, we become criminals if we do not pay the government to correct its own fundamental record-keeping errors. Successive administrations emerge with new schemes to tax us, to permit their staff to extort us on the roads, without giving us assurances of a minimum time-frame before they are allowed to (illegally) tax us again.

Why do you want to tie biometrics to a vehicle? What does the involvement of your vehicle in the commission of a crime actually prove, beyond the fact that it was used in the commission of a crime? People transfer ownership of their cars all the time. Will the BCMR back-end accommodate transfer of ownership? People borrow and drive each others’ cars all the time. Will the BCMR prevent car theft? Unless the driver’s biometrics are required to start the engine, I don’t see how. Tolu Ogunlesi was car-jacked and thrown in the boot of his car while the armed robbers with their armour-piercing artillery used the vehicle in their operations. Would a BCMR have helped the police in identifying the bandits after the operations? Where are the old ECMR records and what verifiable use were they put to? We cannot keep stumping up for unlegislated taxation and here’s what I think we should do. You should be warned though, depending on your location, that it will cost you about N500-N1000 to participate.

Here is a list of the current members of the House of Assembly. Here is a list of the current members of the Senate. Below is a short letter that everyone can copy and paste (or amend as liked) and send to each of the legislators representing their State. Will it work? Unlikely, but I think it beats merely tweeting, blogging or getting worked up about it.

[Date]

[Name of Legislator]

National Assembly Complex

Three Arms Zone, Maitama

Abuja, FCT

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Frequent Levies by the Nigerian Police and the Federal Road Safety Commission

I am a resident/citizen of the State you represent at the National Assembly and I write to bring to your attention the hardship being caused by the recent changes being made to driving documents by the Nigerian Police and the FRSC.

The processes are convoluted and cost more than the official fee, the documents are not issued in good time and the legislative basis on which the agencies in question seek to exact levies on us is questionable. While the FRSC is indeed empowered by law to regulate vehicle/driver licensing, this should not mean that we can be mandated to procure new vehicle or driver identification at the Corp Commander’s every whim. The Nigerian Police, on the other hand, has even less ostensible power to “register” anyone, much less exact a fee for doing so.

I call upon you, in conjunction with your colleagues, to stand up for the Nigerians you represent and, at the very least, amend existing laws to stipulate the minimum time-frames permissible between regulatory interventions of this nature. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

[Sender’s Name]

Dubai Diary

Dubai at Night. Taken with my Samsung SIII

Tex has been travelling again. This time, I went to Dubai with a large group of family and friends, to celebrate my sister-in-law’s wedding. I know Segun Adeniyi has railed against destination weddings but, usually, what the couple wants, the couple gets. Here, hopefully for your reading pleasure, are my bits and bobs from the trip.

Curses for Horses

My mum was there to represent the Texano familia, together with my aunt and a few of their friends. It was the first trip any of them would make to Dubai and, two of them being Waffi Girls, I was not surprised at their exclamations as we walked into the airport terminal.

Shuo!?! Na de same oil wen we get na hin dese people take build airport?”

“Ewooo!!! See as e big, fine!”

“God must punish all our leaders! Everybody wen don rule us before!!”

It didn’t get better after we cleared customs and drove into town, or later during the trip when we gathered for the wedding festivities. I then made the grave error of trying to play devil’s advocate, or Sanusi’s per-capita-oilwealth-gambit (he was on the flight to Dubai, coincidentally). “Well, there’s more of us in Nigeria, than in the emirates, and…”

Go joo! Ogbokodo lawyer.  Have they even sincerely tried to build anything?”

Another guest at the wedding concluded that the difference was leaders with(out) vision; no idea of anything really worth achieving or of leaving their office better than they met it. I think I agree.

The Heights are the Window to the Soul

I’ve heard many seasoned business travellers describe Dubai as “a city without a soul”. I have no idea what this actually means but I suppose it’s because of the contrived, rapid development. There’s very little history by way of organic growth and it’s mostly huge skyscrapers punctuating what used to be a blank desert canvas. Perhaps the Emiratis themselves, as a people, are not the most friendly, and immigrants making up the majority of the workforce also has something to do with this worldview.

In contrast, these travellers love Nigeria, with its crinkum-crankum, yanpanyanrin, jagajaga, and all the other things we Nigerians love to complain about. Our bad roads, our lack of stable or regular electricity, our acute leadership deficit, our endemic corruption, our suya, the way we drink and drive – the things that make Nigeria what it is.

I say SOD THAT!!! If it was within my power, I would gladly sell Nigeria’s soul to the devil, if it would make us as soulless yet as efficient as the UAE. My first visit to Dubai was in 2006 and I know how much has changed infrastructurally since then. I’ve lived in Nigeria all my life and, well…to hell with the soul.

Compare the Comperes

I made my debut as a wedding reception compere and I think, with the experience, I have new-found respect for those who make a living keeping the tempo upbeat at wedding receptions. I suspect it was my sister-in-law’s way of keeping the reception nice, intimate and family-ish, asking me to compere with her Uncle. It was by no means a disaster but we didn’t really get the audience to engage with us, at least not at first.

Things came to a head when, in order to fill the dead air caused by the bestman and the DJ searching for the music for the former’s speech, I was forced to resort to a collection of sayings and quotes on marriage. You know, of the “By all means marry. If you find a good wife you’ll be happy, if not you’ll be a philosopher” variety.

I unleashed the first one. Crickets. Except for my darling Mrs Tex who laughed. I unleashed the second and still, dead air, apart from a few sarcastic guffaws.

Deliverance was sent to me from on high through my Texinas, who’d been running around nearby and demanded to have a go on the “micra phone”. I was struggling, so I readily agreed, placing the mic under the 4-year old’s mouth.

“Hello Everyone…”

“HELLOOOOOO!!!” I couldn’t believe it – the crowd responded.

“Ehm…if you want to have a baby, first of all you need to get married.”

Raucous Laughter.

Then it was the 6-year old’s turn.

“Hello Everyone…”

“HELLOOOOOOO!!!”

“My name is [Texina One] and I’m very excited!”

“AWWW…. WE’RE EXCITED TOO!” More laughter.

“Shall I continue with my boring jokes?”, I asked.

“NOOOOOO!!!!” But now there was laughter.

Luckily for me, the bestman was ready.

The Middle-Eastern World Cup 

On the last morning of the trip, I had to take a walk to a pharmacy to get some meds. It was 10am and, while I had no idea of the temperature at the time, I swear I was close to fainting, after an extremely leisurely 10-minute walk. I’ve read about air-conditioned training centres and match venues as we prepare for Qatar 2022 but unless, they’re planning to air-condition the entire country for the duration of the tournament, I have to ask, WHAT THE [CENSORED] WERE THEY THINKING!!??

All in One Place: Limericks of August

They gathered from far for Aliko

Days after the rip from Atiku

To honour the man

Their oil masterplan

No plans of their own, brains like Tico

 

Le Prof has finally spent

On class, and not just on rent

From Madrid a thrill

They gave us Özil

To thrive, from whence Gareth went.

 

Did you see the fantasy sale

That’s making all football heads wail

The priciest man

In Galactico land

Is Gareth (not Christian) Bale

 

He’s fully recovered they say

In wholly opprobrious way

But if he returned

To the cockpit he burned

I bet none of those guys would stay

 

There once was a team warchest

S’posed to make squad the best

But something is wrong

For all summer long

The cheque-book’s been under arrest

 

The House has declared him unfit

His sackings not likely legit

The vultures unyielding

His signature wielding

The absurdity makes one spit.

 

Danbaba’s case is a weird one

His Deputy must be a feared one

For stupidest prank

His handlers we thank

As Suntai’s becoming a jeered one

 

ASUU went on strike, now been struck

In Delta, Kidnappers amok

One score Dons abducted

A ransom expected

Kidnappers are in for a shock.

 

Once Martin LK had a dream

That coffee’d be equal to cream

A half century past

Now free, free at last

The coffee and cream are a team.

 

There once was a toll concession

Made Lekki an exception

Now down has been struck

Is Gidi in luck

Or the buyout’ll buy out an election?

 

Assad is the bossman in Syria

Now ravaged by war & hysteria

Provoking the West

To clean up the mess

But ‘Raq,’Ghanistan still infernia

 

There once was a coach named Wenger

Been on an 8yr-long bender

Determined that he

Miraculously

Would win without being a spender

 

Mikey & Catherine have split

It doesn’t surprise me one bit

When he said his patch

Was caused be her snatch

I knew before long she would quit

 

The governor that fell from the sky

Expected by many to die

Is back on his feet

Incredible feat

But ready to lead? Pls don’t lie.

 

Suntai though now mute is still writing

Sack letters (less bark and more biting)

But deep down I expect

The thought or prospect

Of being flown by him’s not inviting

 

Like Yardy,Danbaba is conscious

But to ask him to speak is presumptuous

Political dance

In macabre trance

And nobody finds it obnoxious

 

In the creeks once lived a warlord

By amnesty to society restored

From arms, bayonette

To owning a jet(!)

Late Yardy we must all applaud

 

There broke a holy scandal

“That preacher is a vandal”

Salacious surcharge

For Grace-ous discharge

Brethren, let’s light a candle.

 

The salacious saga’s crescendo

The Grace-Powerups like Nintendo

To levels unknown

My mind has been blown

Wow, see pastoral innuendo

 

There once was a Gyptian Pharaoh

Ruled, feared like Emperor Nero

Imprisond’pon Spring

That Arabs did bring

Released, cos Gypt’s at ground zero

 

The start to the season was patchy

But ‪#Wenger is wise, like Apache

Redeem us, he must

Or ‪#InArseneWeRust

So Gunners, defeat Fernebache!

 

Old Rob of new Rhodesia

Black King of maladmesia

Has done it again

Now in 7th reign

All cheer? It must be amnesia.

 

The proud red men of London

Are faced with a conundrum –

To flourish or dry

To spend or to die

In glare of White Hart bunkum

 

Here’s more presidential porn

From the’appendage heaped with scorn

Our oxes are gored

Tim’s Vice-Man ignored

Cos with her they didn’t mourn

 

His article, overly retweeted

Salacious parts now deleted

No Hector of Troy

The sad little boy’s

Apology futile, defeated.

 

The author of tribal trilogy

Adduced “non-tribal” biology

The lesson is learnt

His fingers are burnt

And hence the quick apology.

 

There once was a “ceasefire”

By men who were pariah

It’s puzzling how

They fooled that old cow

As death-count keeps on getting higher.

A Summary of the Nigerian Law of Copyright

 

This piece summarises the Nigerian Law of Copyright, with a particular focus on literary and musical works.

 

According to the Copyright Act of Nigeria, the following shall be eligible for copyright-

(a) literary works; (which includes, irrespective of literary quality, novels, stories and poetical works; plays, stage directions, film scenarios and broadcasting scripts; choreographic works, computer programmes; text-books, treatises, histories, biographies, essays and articles; letters, reports and memoranda; lectures addresses and sermons; and other similar works)

(b) musical works; (which means means any composition, irrespective of musical quality and includes works composed for musical accompaniment.)

(c) artistic works;

(d) cinematograph works;

(e) sound recording; (which means the first fixation of a sequence of sound capable of being perceived aurally and of being reproduced, but does not include a soundtrack associated with a cinematographic film.)

(f) broadcasts.

A literary, musical, or artistic work shall not be eligible for copyright unless-

(a) sufficient effort has been expended on making the work to give it an original character;

(b) the work has been fixed in any definite medium of expression now known or later to be developed, from which it can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of any machine or device (e.g. on paper, stone, on a computer hard-drive, on a blog-hosting server).

 

Copyright in a work shall be exclusive right to control the doing in Nigeria of any of the following acts (for literary or musical works):

(i) reproduce the work any material form;

(ii) publish the work;

(iii) perform the work in public;

(iv) produce, reproduce, perform or publish any translation of the work;

(v) make any cinematograph film or a record in respect of the work;

(vi) distribute to the public, for commercial purposes, copies of the work, by way of rental, lease, hire, loan or similar arrangement;

(vii) broadcast or communicate the work to the public by a loud speaker or any other similar device;

(viii) make an adaptation of the work;

(ix) do in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-paragraphs (I) to (vii) of this paragraph;

 

Copyright in a sound recording shall be exclusive right to control in Nigeria-

(a) the direct or indirect reproduction, broadcasting or communication to the public of the whole or a substantial part of the recording either in its original form or in any form recognisably derived from the original;

(b) the distribution to the public for commercial purposes of copies of the work by way of rental, lease, hire, loan or similar arrangement.

 

WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT?

  1. Usually, the author or composer of the work;
  2. If Person X commissions Person Y to author the work (Y not being X’s employee or apprentice), or if Y makes it in the course of his employment, copyright belongs to Y, unless the contract between X and Y states otherwise.
  3. If the work is made in the course of employment in an organisation that issues newspapers, magazines or other periodicals, copyright belongs to the company, unless contract says otherwise.

 

WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF A MUSICAL WORK?

Musical Work usually comprises the Musical Composition and Sound Recording.

Musical Composition consists of the music as written, as well as any accompanying words (lyrics). The sound recording, on the other hand, results from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds into a tangible medium that can be played back.

The author of the composition is the writer and/or the lyricist. Author of the sound recording is the composer(s) or the sound engineer, or both. However, it’s possible for the contract between the composer and the sound engineer to state who owns the copyright.

WHAT IS COPYRIGHT INFRINGMENT?

Copyright is infringed by any person who without the licence or authorisation of the owner of the copyright-

(a) does, or cause any other person to do an act, the doing of which is controlled by copyright;

(b) imports into Nigeria, otherwise than for his private or domestic use, any article in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a) of this subsection;

(c) exhibits in public any article in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a) of this subsection;

(d) distributes by way of trade, offer for sale, hire or otherwise or for any purpose prejudicial to the owner of the copyright, any article in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a)of this subsection;

(e) makes or has in his possession, plates, master tapes, machines, equipment or contrivances used for the purpose of making infringed copies of the work;

(f) permits a place of public entertainment or of business to be used for a performance in the public of the work, where the performance constitutes an infringed of the copyright in the work, unless the person permitting the place to be used is not aware, and had no reasonable ground for suspecting that the performance would be an infringement of the copyright;

(g) performs or cause to be performed for the purposes of trade or business or as supporting facility to a trade or business or as supporting facility to a trade or business, any work in which copyright subsists.

 

JUDICIAL RELIEF/REMEDIES FOR INFRINGEMENT

  1. Damages – money, punitvely
  2. Injunction – an order of the court
  3. Account – hand over all the income from unlicensed sales/reproduction
  4. Others (as court deems fit).

 

DURATION OF COPYRIGHT

Type of Work Author Date of Expiration of Copyright
Literary, musical or artistic works other than photographs Known Human Author 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies.
Known Joint Authors 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies; ‘death of the author’ taken to refer to the author who last dies.
Anonymous or Pseudonymous Author 70 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.
Government or Body Corporate 70 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.
Cinematographic Films & Photographs 50 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.
Sound recordings 50 years after the end of the year in which the recording was first published.
Broadcasts 50 years after the end of the year in which the broadcast first took place.
Beatles

Beatles (Photo credit: Ricard Lopez 1)

Does it ever happen to you that you catch the last chorus of a song you haven’t heard since you were a child, and because of all the memories that accompany the song, you google it, wikipedia it, youtube it, repeat the video 50 times and discover that it was covered by quite a few artists? Then you listen to all the different versions and see how each person made the song unique to them? No? Ah, just me then.

The song that’s most recently done this to me is “You’ve got a friend”. The song was originally done by Carol King in 1971 and has been covered by at least 10 other artistes since. Apparently, it was also recorded by James Taylor in 1971 and both King and Taylor won grammies for the song in the same year.

I found myself wondering today, whether that’s the mark of a truly great song. Your peers pay you the greatest amount of respect by doing your song and decades letter musicians still think the song is good enough to include on their album. And there are many songs like this – in the days of dixieland jazz, you had Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin (to name a few) all cover each other’s songs. Songs like Mack the Knife, Cheek to Cheek, Ain’t Misbehaving and Nature Boy.

Inching closer in time, The Beatles wrote so many great songs, they’ve been covered more times than a newborn baby in  winter. Other well-covered songs include Bill Withers‘ Lovely Day, Simon and Garfunkel‘s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Dionne Warwick‘s Walk on By, Stevie Wonder‘s AS (actually Stevie is very heavily covered too), and the list goes on quite a bit. And let’s not talk about Michael and Elvis who people not only cover but actually have acts making a living from aping them.

Today, I had 3 versions of You’ve Got A Friend on heavy rotation – Carole King’s, Don Williams’ and James Taylor’s and I got to thinking if any of the songs we’re jamming today will ever be covered. I know rappers will always look in the archives for hooks to sample but how many songs today will be worth redoing in 3 years? Narrowing the scope of the question, how many Nigerian Artistes  write songs that anyone would want to redo in future? Nigerian songs from the past like Iyawo Asiko, Osondi Owendi, Eddie Kwansa, Bottom Belle, Joromi, Mo fe Mu’yan, have been covered by today’s stars. Are they making music worth covering?

Who’s Covering You?