The 5 Stages of Political Grief

GEJBuhari

15 months after the elections and 12 after the swearing-in of the new administration, more than enough time has passed for everyone to move on from campaign rhetoric and be more forward looking. It doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon, though, as many on either side of the fence still seem somewhat upset, for various reasons. However, both sides are more alike than each would like to admit and have been going through the same emotional/grief cycle. How, you ask, given that one side’s candidate won and the other lost? I’ll try to explain it.

 

Denial

For the Jonathanians, there was a lot of hope in the power of his incumbency and while they did expect the elections to be close, they did not anticipate his loss at the polls. They tried to point out voting irregularities like extensive underage voting in some parts of the country and a blanket failure of card readers. But it was not to be. Jonathan had lost.

 

The Buharists on the other hand, could not believe that the candidate they had sold with so much gusto was not similarly embraced by the entire country. Newspapers, in succession, both local and foreign, pointed out that he was probably as problematic a candidate as Jonathan, with his own Achilles Heel. However, they sold the candidate they imagined and hoped Buhari would be. President Buhari went on to win the election, but only by 51% of the vote to Jonathan’s 46%.

 

Anger

The Jonathanians were aggrieved at their principal’s loss and nothing is more symbolic of that anger than former Minister Orubebe’s sit-in “We will not take it” protest while the results were being announced.

 

Meanwhile, between the elections and the President’s assumption of office, information began to filter through about the wanton excesses that had occurred in President Jonathan’s government and how some officials were keen to make restitution before the axe of Buhari was imbued with the power of office and came swinging down with a vengeance. The Buharists were angry that so many were willing to consider Jonathan for re-election, and that alleged looters thought they could plea-deal their way out of consequences for their actions.

 

Bargaining

Then came all the what-ifs and if-onlys. If only Jonathan had focused on the Niger Delta and on Power. If only he’d shown a steelier spine and not been such a Johnny-come-lately, allowing everyone and everything to sway him. And if only Buhari was a bit more communicative and empathetic and did not do things that lent credence to the pre-election suspicions of the Jonathanians. What if he’d actually hit the ground running and appointed a cabinet earlier? And if only when he spoke he didn’t actually say some of the things that he was being reported to have said.

 

Depression

This is the current stage in the cycle. Both camps are losing wind and are defending their principals with a little less enthusiasm now. The profligacy of the Jonathan administration has led to the alleged uncovering of swathes of cash buried away in septic tanks and false walls in people’s homes; revelations, almost new every morning, about the EFCC’s noose tightening around some former official or the other’s neck. President Buhari has also not shown too much dexterity outside the sphere of chasing down loot, with the economy reeling from his tentativeness in addressing its issues. More than a few of his supporters, even the most ardent ones have stopped just short of renouncing their followership.

 

Acceptance

This is where we urgently need everyone to get to, especially the President’s cabinet. Looking back so frequently and pointing accusatory fingers only opens the door for them to be measured against the same yardsticks, as they are all coming to find. The supporters also need to fully accept the flaws of their respective principals with equanimity. Both have huge chinks in their armour and anyone who sticks their neck too far out in their defence will probably end up with a lot of egg on their face. We need to accept that GEJ wasn’t all bad and Buhari isn’t all good. We need to also accept that our fate, at least for the immediate future, lies in Buhari’s hands & his failure has grave implications for all of us.

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Hopefully, acceptance will mean that as supporters we can put away triumphalism, snark and I-told-you-so; and that the current administration is looking firmly forward. Let’s move on.

 

 

NB.

What about supporters of Kowa Party (and other “mushroom parties”) and those who remained on the fence in undeclared fealty?

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Mopping through MOPICON

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“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

Nothing in this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society – (a) for the purpose of preventing the disclosure, of information received in confidence; maintaining the authority and independence of courts or regulating telephony, wireless broadcasting, television or the exhibition of cinematographic films; …”

 

 

This is the summary of the provisions of the Nigerian constitution on the right to freedom of expression. The section has become relevant in the light of a draft bill being circulated, seeking to establish a Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON). The name seems innocuous enough, but when a look is taken at what the Bill seeks to empower Mopicon to do (see the MOPICON Draft Billor read a review of the Bill here), then it is time to be a little concerned.

 

As is typical with most Bills in our country, there is no White Paper – no summary of the challenges or mischief facing the motion picture industry. There have been a couple of interventions as to why the Council is needed (see here and here), but these only appear to vaguely refer to the “challenges” facing the industry and the fact that some guilds gained traction and others didn’t. At a first glance therefore, it may be that the production of the Bill was driven by a need for validation in a certain faction of the industry old-timers. A review of the law itself doesn’t help either in identifying what mischief the law seeks to cure, or the problems it is trying to address.

 

The Bill seeks to establish the Council for the purpose of charging it with duties that include, amongst others:

“(a) determining who are Motion Picture Practitioners;

(b) determining what standards of knowledge and skills are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered Motion Picture Practitioners and reviewing those standards from time to time;

(e) regulating and controlling professional practice in the motion picture industry…”

 

It may perhaps then be that the industry has been contending with fake practitioners, lacking in knowledge and skills and functioning without professional regulation and control. These charlatans were probably duping unsuspecting members of the public into hiring them and causing the economy to lose billions of dollars monthly. Who knows?

 

The Bill proceeds to segment the industry into Guilds and Associations. Writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, editors, creative designers and sound and lighting technicians will each have their own guild, while distributors/marketers and producers will belong to associations. Each of these guilds must seek accreditation from the Council.

 

The drafters of the Bill appear to have some doubt over which ministry is supposed to supervise the Council. This is very likely to be connected to the dispute between the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Communication which arises from time to time, over issues where their jurisdictions ostensibly overlap. As such, the Bill frequently refers to a “Minister in charge of motion picture”.

 

The Bill then creates tiers of membership with the Council – associate members, full members and fellow members. Associate members need to be enrolled in training programmes (of not less than 3 years) with full members who have at least 10 years of experience, and who are recognised and accredited by the Council. Full members need to undergo at least a year’s professional training as approved by the Council, or have acquired “skill and expertise in Motion Picture Practice for a period not less than 3 years.” Fellows get so appointed by the “Privileges and Ethics Committee” of the Council subject to the criteria that said committee will lay out. However, a minimum consideration appears to be that the candidate for fellowship must show that “in the fifteen year immediately preceding the date of his/her consideration, [he/she] has been in continuous active practice as a motion picture practitioner.” What is active continuous practice? If I go away for research/participant observation for my next project for, say, 18 months, have I broken my period of continuous active practice?

 

The Bill says you can’t be a member unless you’re 18 years old, so it’s unclear what this portends for child actors (or other teenage apprentices), given the sanctions for being involved in motion picture practice, which we shall get to in a minute. Foreign actors/practitioners too are excluded unless their home country has a reciprocal arrangement recognising and permitting Nigerian actors/practitioners.

 

The Bill then gets even more interesting.

 

You’re not entitled to practice as a motion picture practitioner unless you’re a member of a recognised Guild or Association. You’re not allowed to stay in your lane, never mind that the constitution grants you the freedom to belong to or leave associations.

 

It goes further to say that you cannot take anyone to court to recover your fees unless you’re either a member or a fellow of the Council, in respect of any work you’ve done as a motion picture practitioner. This means that if you take your debtor to court, it will be a defence for him to say you’re not entitled to the fee since you’re not a member or fellow of the Council.

 

Additionally, if you’re not registered as a member with the Council, you are prohibited from producing or making projects for either the Cinema or Home Video Market.

 

Breaching any of these provisions could make you liable to a fine of N100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 2 years.

 

Also interesting is that MOPICON will furnish the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board with the list of practitioners to be licensed under the NFVCB Act.

 

Oh, and if criminal proceedings are brought against you under this law, as they pertain to acts that are offences if done by unregistered persons, the law says there is a presumption that you are unregistered unless you can show otherwise. Changing burden of proof in criminal proceedings. Interesting.

 

What does the MOPICON Bill really set out to achieve? I see nothing more than the establishment of an oligarchy within an industry that has thrived in spite of the government’s oil-centred tunnel-vision. A select group of people (most likely the promoters and their affiliates will determine who is a member of the industry and who isn’t, who can be a “motion picture industry practitioner” and who can’t. The question is, why?

 

Is the industry suffering due to a lack of accreditation of individuals and guild membership? That’s not the impression I get. Rather, because the industry has operated under free market principles so far, those who have distinguished themselves are establishing reputations, are able to attract the funding required to execute bigger projects. Certain producers, directors and editors are beginning to be known as the go-to guys because their quality is speaking.

 

MOPICON will effectively become a licensing authority for the creative industry. License to be an actor, license to be a script-writer, license to direct how scripts are interpreted onto film, license to hold a boom mic and work the sounds and lighting, license to collect one’s fees for one’s work. To me, this is absurd and the omnibus, ubiquitous Nigerianism of wanting to “sanitise” the industry cannot hold. In more developed “motion picture industry” jurisdictions, there is no such regulation. There are censors, as there are in Nigeria, but these operate to classify movies as appropriate or otherwise for different audiences. Some might point to bodies like the Screen Actors Guild but those guys (and a few contemporaries) started out as trade unions to negotiate fairer working conditions for actors. They were not and are not a professional licensing authority. Like these “saner climes”, we also have regulations from the Film and Video Censors Board, as well as a Broadcasting Code from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. What tangible benefit is MOPICON going to add?

 

Creativity should not be subject to a license from anyone. Imagine if we couldn’t write novels or blog, stage plays, paint pictures, make music, make sculptures, take pictures unless a small group of tsars said it was okay. This is exactly the same thing. Creative people are judged by how much the public enjoys or rates their work. Quality will shine and be rewarded in due course. The same is true of the converse. I personally hope the MOPICON Bill doesn’t pass.

 

Cracking Digital Music in Nigeria: The COSON Summit

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are totally personal to me, in my personal capacity as someone who has had a keen professional interest in the development of the copyright administration system in Nigeria for over 10 years.

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The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) just concluded the hosting of a summit on digital music distribution, licensing and consumption. The 2-day event was tagged “The Nigerian Digital Music Summit” and its theme was “Establishing the Basic Rules of Engagement in the Digital Environment”. It was attended by industry practitioners, lawyers and also had resource people from countries with more mature copyright systems, such as Norway, Finland and South Africa. At the end of the summit, a communiqué was published, outlining the various things the community wanted to see in place.

The summit was timely for a couple of reasons – this year, for the very first time, it was reported that revenues from digital exploitation surpassed sales from physical. Revenue from streaming is quickly bridging the gap with revenues from downloads, with some companies actually reporting higher income from streaming than downloads. Streaming is the future, as I have previously written, and the time to begin to lay the groundwork for the Nigerian music industry to fully partake of it, was at least 3 years ago.

THE TELCOS ARE EVIL CORP.

Moving quickly to the substance of the proceedings, the gathering very quickly turned on the telcos, accusing them of benefitting unfairly from the music they exploited, mostly via Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBTs – the songs you hear playing when you give someone a call). And it was understandable. For an industry that has risen from piracy-ridden ashes to becoming arguably the leading hub in Africa and a major contributor to GDP post-rebasing, CRBTs were the content producer’s goldmine for sometime. Network saturation, in terms of subscribers and availability of CRBTs now means there are lots more mouths contending for the same pot of beans and individual revenues are declining somewhat.

In the middle of all this however, is the [unsavoury] fact that the telcos retain anywhere between 60 and 80% of the income generated from CRBTs. The remaining 20-40% is then shared between the Value Added Service (“VAS”) Company and the artist/or record label, with of course an even smaller share for the artist if they are signed to a label. With the bulk of their earnings coming from either corporate endorsements (but we can’t all be Don Jazzy, Phyno, Wizkid or Olamide) and CRBTs, the industry is probably justified to demand a larger cut.

Tellingly, however, very little attention was paid to streaming in spite of the efforts of CAPASSO CEO, Nothando Migogo, to stress that the time to focus on it was now i.e. before bandwidth and data costs stop being issues.

The industry should be worried about streaming because each of the four telcos in Nigeria now operates a music streaming service – MTN Music+, Airtel Wynk, Etisalat Cloud9 and Globacom’s Music App. If these telcos have held on to the lion share of the revenue with CRBTs, what’s going to happen with streaming revenue from their services? For other music streaming services, the most efficient way to take payments from subscribers and purchasers is via their airtime. However, when the telcos convert airtime to cash to pay for a transaction, they typically retain about 70% of it, leaving only 30% to be shared between the stand-alone streaming service and the artist/label. Perhaps the even more pressing issue is that the aim of the telcos in starting these services, in my opinion, is to sell data, as voice revenues have peaked globally – data is the new frontier. It’s the same reason some of them are getting into video on demand, etc. In other words, data sales are the real target, the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the telcos, and these guys don’t share data revenue (larger than music download or streaming subscription revenue) with anyone.

BUT EVERYONE LOVES THE FREE DOWNLOAD SITES

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Perhaps it’s even more striking that an industry that wants to earn serious digital revenues made no reference to the industry practices that cannibalise the larger portion of digital earnings, particularly the way nearly everyone offers vast amounts of music for free downloads. What will the incentive be for consumers to buy albums when 70% has previously been released for free. If one also considers the fact that the industry is globally now more singles-driven than albums (iTunes killed the album), this is effectively a limiter on potential earnings, if all singles are given away. The CRBT gravy-train won’t last forever and it isn’t even really working for those who need it to, who have neither the eye-watering performance fees or the juicy telco endorsement deals. Will those ones dare cross the picket line against their benefactors?

ENTERTAINMENT DEVICE LEVY?

Another interesting issue that came up was the Private Copy Levy. This is basically a surcharge on all mobile phones, tablets, PCs, storage devices, etc. to compensate musicians for the revenues they lose when we email or Bluetooth music to each other. I would be very interested to see how our analogue National Assembly would treat this sort of legislation.

F.U.B.U.

Perhaps a final impression is on a comment made by the panellist on the need to develop homegrown solutions to our problems. Yes, benchmarks can be drawn against global best practice, but ultimately the mature systems matured because they developed relatively organically and catered to the needs of their locale, not necessarily pidgeon-holing themselves into systems others had developed. I think it’s important to take local peculiarities into account, to get the system that works best for us.

All said, COSON is doing very important work and deserves commendation for how far its come in the past few years. As long as it becomes clearer how it distributes revenues it collects, and as it increasingly delivers value to the industry, the benefits to will be immense.

The JUSUN Strike: 7 Things (Guest Post by Damola Layonu, @snagapus)

On 2nd January 2015, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) called an indefinite nationwide strike of all judiciary staff, the last resort in a bid to compel the Federal Government to comply with the Court’s decision in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/66/2013; JUSUN vs. National Judicial Council, ordering that funds accruing to the judiciary from the Federal Account be henceforth paid directly to the heads of courts of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Below are 7 likely fallouts of this –

  1. “Wrong place at the wrong time abi? Na so.” *yinmu*

 

Justice delayed is justice denied, and no mistake! Whether your doppelganger (look-alike) stole bread in the market, or you had a sordid affair with the local Inspector’s wife, if you’re in jail waiting to post bail, think again. The nightmare is just beginning. Get comfortable…or…UN-comfortable as the case may be. You may be staying a while.

 

  1. Waiting for trial? You’re on a LOOOOOONG thing”

 

For two straight days, John Bull and Dauda, the two ‘presidos’ of your cell have made your stay…interesting. There are rats, there are mosquitoes, and you are faced with the shocking realisation that hypothermia is possible in this hot country! You actually have an excellent lawyer, one who might be able to get you off the hook…IF he could just get you a trial date. DARN! The ingenious defence your lawyer has somehow managed to conjure won’t see the light of day for quite some time. Please refer to No.1 above.

 

  1. “Default Penalties: To pay, or not to pay?”

 

At court, every move a lawyer makes – when to file, when to respond, when to serve – is timed. If he exceeds the stipulated time, he just applies for an extension, right? WRONG! What happens if time runs out during the strike? Does he still apply for an extension of time? If so, what reasons does he give? Whose inadvertence (mistake) should the court excuse? Does he pay penalties? If he decides (rightly so, in my opinion) not to, can the Registry lawfully reject his filing? If the Registry refuses, what’s his next move? So many questions! Arrggghhhh!!!! *pulls out hair*

 

  1. “I just got back…for good”

 

You escaped the shores of our blessed country, and have settled somewhere on the Continent, in the Carribean, the Orient or maybe further away than that. One day, you receive a subpoena, summoning you home to give crucial evidence in a case for/against your brother/mother/godmother/company/uncle’s sister/doctor/babalawo etc. and here you are, prepped and ready to destroy the opposition’s case. What now? Just pop back home for a bit? I think not. The strike could end at any time and your absence from court might just put the case in jeopardy, or worse, be deemed contempt, putting you at risk of jail-time the minute you return.

 

  1. “Adjourned to the 29th of Never”

 

Any Nigerian lawyer worth his salt knows that the Court Registries have backlogs – files awaiting re-assignment, rulings that have not been delivered (or written, for that matter, in some cases), and last but not least, suits awaiting adjournment. What is another likely impact of the strike? That’s’ right – MORE files awaiting re-assignment, rulings that have not been delivered/written and suits awaiting adjournment. Good luck with that, guys!

 

  1. “Professional fees, but UN-professional expenses?”

 

Most firms take an initial deposit on account and then settle the balance upon conclusion of a lawsuit. Expenses, however, accumulate during the course of the suit, and may be calculated based on a number of factors including lawyers’ attendance at court. So the question is – Should lawyers still claim their expenses for court attendance even though they KNOW the courts aren’t sitting?

 

  1. “Winner takes (and keeps) all”

 

It’s election season again, or for some lawyers, early Christmas. Every election seems to breed more disgruntled politicians, claiming they won the primaries within their respective parties. Lawyers rub their hands in glee, knowing fully well that the egoes of those passed over will inevitably kick in, the court battles will begin, and the money will follow. Well, sorry lawyers, no Christmas for you this term. And as for the petitioners, we are equally sorry. For if you lost the primaries, you lost FOR REAL. No take-backsies!

 

Now, while I acknowledge that this industrial action may bode serious and detrimental implications and effects, I think looking on the lighter side of things helps. So here’s hoping the strike ends soon and that you at least got a giggle out of this.

The Chronicles of Chill: The Hand of Gambrach

Chill had long since departed the land and yea, did no one expect it to return until the battle was lost and won and the hurly burly done. Lo, where there no more bants, memes or tagging of hashish.

 

And it came to pass, in the season of electoralis minora, that the house of Apicuriam held electoralis minora federalis, to choose from amongst themselves one who would contend with King Gejoshaphat for the throne of all the 37 kingdoms in the realm.

 

Now, Gejoshaphat had served for one and a half quadrannia, having succeeded Yaraz of North Centralis, who perished in kingus interruptus. And Gejoshaphat desired and purposed in his heart to rule the 37 kingdoms for one more quadrannium.

 

And lo, there was no contention in the house of Padipalia against Gejoshaphat, for Markus Antonio, head of the senatus, together with elders of the house had presented themselves to Gejoshaphat, crying, “O good king, thou of good fortune and benevolence, master of patience, do not depart from the throne, we beseech thee! We would have no king besides thee!”

 

Gejoshaphat looked upon their pleas with mercy and yielded to their requests. “Ye are my people, and I your king. Far be it from me to reject your supplication.” And thus was there no rival in the house of Padipalia, for even the son of Baluwaz, the very first King of the realm, was discombobulated out of the running. And Gejoshaphat saw it and declared that it was good.

 

In the house of Apicuriam, after a minora federalis devoid of rancour, the delegates spake and chose Gambrach the Centurion as their champion. And lo, did Gambrach find their favour from amongst his peers Atikarias, Kwankwuzaiah, Rochashem and Samuel.

 

Atikarias had served as King’s hand to King Shegolas of Owurutas, but lo did he fall from Shegolas’s grace when Shegolas sought a third quadrannium which was against the laws of the realm. Atikarias had sought to be king for 3 quadrannia in the past but the word of Shegolas continued to cry against him.

 

Atikarias had not only traversed the 37 kingdoms, yea did he even draw nigh to the prophets of blog in the land of Social Media and Twilistia and was favoured of them. Alas it came to nought.

 

Kwankwuzaiah and Rochashem were kings of Kanorasia and Imoleka, respectively, seeking higher kingship. But yea, was it not to be. Samuel was a scribe, and it was said that his workmen at the scribery had not received wages in several moons.

 

Gambrach had once been king over the realm, in the time before time, when the men of Gunn ruled. Gambrach was a severe man of Gunn, given to diligence, uprightness, correctitude and was renowned for these qualities. And Atikarias had served the realm as a sentry in the time of the men of Gunn, when Gambrach was on the throne.

 

Gambrach had also frequently sought to be king in the here and now and was unvictorious in his battles with Shegolas, Yaraz and Gejoshaphat. At the time of his defeat at the hands of Gejoshaphat, he had sworn thus, “Yea, though I live to be a thousand years, never again shall I seek the crown of the realm. For the quest is a poisoned chalice, and it has drained me of everything.”

 

But there was a clamouring from across the realm, and the people cried out for a deliverer. For many felt oppressed under the officials of Gejoshaphat. And, as did Gejoshaphat, Gambrach hearkened unto the cry of the people. Furthermore as a bringer of change, it was not so farfetched for him to change his mind.

 

And there persisted a hurricane of unchill in the land.

 

It thereafter came to pass, after Gambrach had been elected from Apicuriam, that he was required to name his Hand. The people yearned for Fasholam but Shiwajun would not hear of it. Teximachus of Port Harcula, of whom it was said had matched Atikarias shekel for shekel at the electoralis minora, was also desirous of the Handship. But it did not fall upon him.

 

Shiwajun himself was said to be covetous of the Handship but it was not to be. Ayedeeeveedov, once-Prophet of Googlam, now chronicler of Moozes, had said many words in Twilistia against Shiwajun, but it was all obscure.

 

And then in the 13th hour of the seventh day after the minora election of Gambrach, yea, was it pronounced that Osinoshin, who had served as head-pharisee under Shiwajun, when Shiwajun was king of Gideria, was the chosen Hand of Gambrach.

 

And even though there was already a hurricane of unchill in the land, officials of Medieval Meteorological Services were compelled to upgrade it to a tropical storm of gaddem unchill. For Himaza spake on Gambrach’s choice of Osinoshin. And whenever Himaza speaketh, he entereth under the skin of the people of Social Mediana, Twilistia and Digital Perusia.

 

And there persisted a tsunamic gaddem lack of  chill in the land.

 

…To Be Continued

Guest Post – Collective Rights Management in Nigeria: Unitary v Multiple Collecting Society Models by Olumide Mustapha (@lumes_bg)

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The recent reports regarding the Concerned Copyright and Intellectual Property Owners’ (CCIPO) open letter to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke-Bello (SAN) (AG-Fed) is of tremendous import with regards to the development of the music industry in Nigeria. The letter contained a plea by the CCIPO for the AG-Fed to intervene on behalf of the former to compel the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to approve another collecting society for owners of music copyrights.

 

The matter centres around the issue of collective administration of musical copyrights in Nigeria. In particular, the issue of the collection of royalties and the monopoly of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) in this area, being the only body approved by the regulator, the NCC, to operate as a collecting society for music rights.

 

As it stands, COSON has both been very vocal and visible with respect to its fight against criminal copyright infringement as well as holding various organisations and industries liable in civil law for lack of payment of license fees. This is in addition to its public relations offensive and educational activities to promote the issue of copyright in the music industry. The organisation’s efforts over the last two years have been commendable and the amount of fees they have been collecting and distributing have reportedly been increasing year on year.

 

Where the organisation has been heavily criticised has been in relation to its royalty calculation and distribution formulae, and associated methods. Lack of transparency has also been a levied at the company in addition to the issue of its lack of adequate infrastructure for monitoring the uses of works by commercial users throughout the country.

 

Now, while I am in total agreement with the wide held view that competition is crucial to the development of any industry and economy, the area of collective rights management is unique and therefore requires a gradual process of development until it can be (fully) de-regulated.

 

The mere approval of another collecting society will not in itself ensure that more users will pay license fees for use of music in their respective businesses, nor that music owners will enjoy greater compensation for use of their works. The tendency of (over)- “fragmentation” that is prevalent in most spheres of Nigerian social and economic structures will likely be the result of this desire for ‘de-regulation’, resulting in more confusion, higher transaction costs and ending in less users paying license fees or using music.

 

What   is Collective   Rights   Management:   Pro-Monopoly   v Anti-Monopoly

 

Collective management of copyrights is a system in which owners of works authorize collective management organisations (“Collecting Societies”) to monitor the use of their works, negotiate with prospective users, issue licenses against appropriate remunerations, (usually on the basis of a tariff system), collect such remuneration and distribute it amongst the owners of the works.

 

The rationale for this system arises from the impracticability of managing these activities individually. The transaction costs involved for rights owners to individually administer the public performance rights, (for example), to their works would likely end up being more than the price of the license fee for the use of same.

 

Thus, third-party organisations represent the interests of a group of owners and these ‘collective rights’ organisations, (by virtue of their core activities), enjoy economies of scale when administering these rights on behalf of a large group of rights holders.

 

COSON has repeatedly argued that it is adequately protecting the interests of Nigerian music copyright owners, citing the many civil suits it has filed against various organisations and industries that use music in the course of their businesses. The anti-monopoly advocates, on the other hand, point to COSON’s lack of transparency and accountability, with particular regard to monitoring of works and royalty distribution amongst its members.

 

NCC: Collecting Society Approval Powers

 

Nigeria’s current legal framework with regards to the collective management of music rights (and its regulation) is contained in the Copyright Act Chapter C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (the “Act”), and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisation) Regulation 2007. We operate what can be described as a unitary Collecting Society model with the flexibility to accommodate multiple societies, while having NCC as the overall regulator.

 

Based on our system, the NCC is not obliged to grant any other organisation a license to operate so long as it is of the opinion that COSON is adequately serving the interests of music copyright owners. Also, because the Act is silent on what would constitute the ‘adequate protection of interests’, it is presumably left to the NCC to decide upon.

 

Going Forward

The primary focus should be on issues surrounding the distribution methods of COSON as well as the adequacy of its infrastructure for the monitoring of the use of works. Audio recognition software as well as the use of ‘field operatives’ to gather accurate evidence of use of works by businesses, broadcasters and other commercial users should be the short to medium term aim. The accurate collation of music usage by licensees also serves the secondary purpose of providing a basis for a more equitable distribution of royalties and license fees amongst members. Commercial users are not mandated by law to keep playlists and logbooks so it is even more imperative for COSON to carry out these activities.

 

Both sides in the dispute must not lose focus of the ultimate goal; to wit, having a suitable administrative framework for music copyright administration in Nigeria, that would involve a simple and efficient method for users to obtain lawful   licenses   to   enjoy   creative   works,   whilst   ensuring   the   equitable distribution of fees and the rewarding of creators thereby stimulating further creativity and innovation. It seems both sides of the argument have this intention in mind and must therefore cooperate and engage in continuing dialogue to find some middle ground on which a consensus can be built.

 

Olumide Mustapha Esq (QSEW) is a Media and Entertainment Attorney. He can be reached by telephone on +234 810 421 55 00, or by email at lumimustapha@gmail.com. He also tweets from the handle @lumes_bg.

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To read further on COSON and its battles, disputes and progress, check out BON, COSON and MUSIC-SHUNs: 5 THINGS.

 

 

 

The Night Buhari and Atiku ‘Ruined’ AGK’s 40th Birthday

 

Last night a few of us gathered to celebrate with our friend “AGK” who turned 40. Many happy returns to him.

 

It started off congenially enough, with the perfunctory anecdotes, yabis, complaints about advancing in age yet not advancing sufficiently in comfort, etc. There was even some talk about Kim Kardashian’s freshly photographed oily butt, how the world was full-on porno and how no one knows the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” even though everyone has seen the video more than a couple of times. Nice and, you know, laddish.

 

But it’s that time of our 4-year cycle again and even if it wasn’t, we would still have dabbled into the dinner-party taboo topic of politics.

 

It probably started with a lament on how bad things are in the country and how badly they need to change. “This is why we need to vote for APC and Buhari in February”, it started innocently enough.

 

I had the temerity to disagree, also fairly innocuously. “Well, I think Atiku has positioned himself as the most prepared and most statesmanly of the lot. I would vote for him over Buhari.”

 

Instantly the gathering lost it’s chill. The rest of the conversation, in significantly raised voices, between Buhari’s supporters (virtually everybody else) and me, went something like this.

 

There is no basis for you to compare those 2 personalities. How can you even say that?

 

Well, why not? You can’t have a single-issue presidency, so you shouldn’t run a single-issue campaign!

 

Okay…so tell me, what do you think our greatest issue as a country is? Is it not corruption? Can everything else not be linked to corruption?

 

Look, corruption is a very big issue, but this your saviour can’t even articulate how he’s going to tackle the corruption. You keep on citing credentials from when he either led or worked in authoritarian regimes. How’s he going to cope in a democracy? It’s nothing but a myth jor.

 

It will start with a change in body language from the top. If it is clear to everyone that it will not be business as usual, everyone will sit up. People need to start facing the consequences of their actions. Our biggest problem is that corruption and impunity have no consequence even when people have been caught.

 

But it can’t all be corruption naa. Look at the judiciary, for example. The case load, the procedure rules all allow cases to drag on forever. What is a Buhari, in and of himself, going to do to halve trial times and ensure justice is delivered more quickly?

 

Oh please! Do judges not collect money? All of them?? Trial delays are all/mostly because judges collect money? Ehn, prosecute those that have been caught if there’s evidence. This man, we are not talking academics here. How can we have a discussion about justice and law that isn’t inherently academic? Okay, what about the 3 judges that NJC recently gave soft landing to? All 3 were indicted for misconduct, but rather than face prosecution, they were sacked. Or maybe even retired sef.

 

I don’t know the details of that, but let’s go back to the principal characters. Buhari is a mascot. He has no support structure of his own. His backers are only there because for some mystical reason, he is a vote magnet in North. How many Buhari-types are there? Is he even really a politician in the strict sense of the word? What teams has he built over the years?

 

Team-building is very easy. Any of our bank MDs today can be Minister for Finance or CBN Governor. I don’t think even Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would be averse to serving in a GMB presidency. We really just need ministers and the civil service to sit up.

 

Whatever. Then you people will make noise that all he has lived on since leaving office is his salary and pension. Of what use is that in today’s Nigeria? Personally, I would prefer somebody with a history of building companies, providing employment, building teams, fixing things…

 

Comot here jo! Which industry Atiku get? Intels? That one na cash cow and nor be only him get am. He has factories in Adamawa. Which factories? Have you been there? The man has just pulled a Shekarau on all you converts. This was how Shekarau did us debate magic last year.

 

Sigh, okay, fine. GMB wins the primaries, with the support of BAT. Maybe he wins the election. GMB and BAT are not of the same mould. Their ideas for appointees will be different.

 

Look, I even have conspiracy theory about all this. BAT is nobody’s fool. We will see his real intentions after the APC presidential primaries.

 

Meanwhile, how many of us don collect PVC o?

 

crickets…

 

Rejigging the “Commiseration” Script

 

Abati Statement

This morning in Potiskum, Yobe State, a suicide bomber killed at least 50 secondary school students during their school assembly. There was no word from the Presidency until a few moments ago, when the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, released a statement on his blog, here.

 

The statement sounds a lot like the well-worn one that the Presidency has released over the years (“condmens”, “dastardly”, “heinous”, “cowardly”, and so on). This seems to have removed almost all sense of feeling from these statements. Perhaps the Presidency is also a little numb? And was this not serious enough for the President to address the nation? A few hours after the incident, this was the post on Dr. Abati’s twitter feed –

 

 

What followed the publication of the statement on Potiskum was that people who had been itching for the President to speak on the matter, got a little irritated. It also did not help that splashed across the top of the statement from Dr. Reuben Abati, was an image from Boko Haram’s propaganda album.

 

The script needs to change. Here’s my attempt…

************** *********** *********** *********

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan extends heartfelt commiserations to the Government and people of Yobe state on the death of many students in a bomb attack on Potiskum earlier today.

 

Dear Nigerians, it is with a very heavy heart that the President conveys his deepest sympathies at the horror that that took place in Potiskum this morning.

 

President Jonathan also conveys his deepest sympathies to all parents who lost their beloved children in the heinous attack on the Government Science Secondary School which appears to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.

 

President Jonathan, a parent himself, shares in the grief and sorrow of the Government and people of Yobe State, the parents of our children cut down in their prime and, indeed, all well-meaning Nigerians in our joint loss. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and the circumstances of the senseless brutality, an apparent suicide bombing, make the situation even more reprehensible.

 

The President condemns the dastardly murder of the students on their school’s assembly ground as they prepared to begin another week of study in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. He assures the grieving parents and people of Yobe state that no matter how long it takes, the Federal Government will ensure that all those responsible for the senseless murder of so many promising youngsters and the continuing acts of terrorism across the country are brought to justice and made to pay for their atrocious crimes.

 

The President condemns this barbarity and the ongoing siege laid against the people of Nigeria by those thirsty for war in a land of peace. These children were guilty of nothing, except taking steps to secure their education and a better life for their families. He assures the people of Yobe State and their brothers and sisters in all our other 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory that no matter how long it takes, the Federal Government will ensure that every single perpetrator behind today’s senseless murder will face justice. Already, further to the President’s directions, the Police and the State Security Service are doing…

***************

God help us.

Streaming IS the Future; but Nigerian Music Needs to Turn on The Tap

music

Last week, Adele’s manager, Jonathan Dickins, was reported as saying during an interview that streaming is the future whether musicians liked it or not. His comments followed news that Taylor Swift had pulled her entire catalogue from Spotify, the world’s most popular streaming service.

Taylor Swift is not the first musician to grow less than enamoured of the service, or with streaming as an income generator for the industry. Last year, Radiohead musician Thom Yorke described Spotify as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”, when the group pulled its music off the service. More recently, musician/songwriter Aloe Blacc published an op-ed in which he also expressed grave reservations about streaming as a sustainable source of income. How true, can it be then, that streaming is the future?

Looking at it from Blacc’s perspective, there might be a point about the reward system but I think rather than an indictment on Spotify, it’s more symptomatic of where the industry is, as a whole. Blacc writes –

“Consider the fact that it takes roughly one million spins on Pandora for a songwriter to earn just $90. Avicii’s release “Wake Me Up!” that I co-wrote and sing, for example, was the most streamed song in Spotify history and the 13th most played song on Pandora since its release in 2013, with more than 168 million streams in the US. And yet, that yielded only $12,359 in Pandora domestic royalties— which were then split among three songwriters and our publishers. In return for co-writing a major hit song, I’ve earned less than $4,000 domestically from the largest digital music service.”

If that’s what’s now considered a streaming “success story,” is it any wonder that so many songwriters are now struggling to make ends meet?”

It sounds dire, but that’s 168 million streams versus exactly how much in sales? According to this site, the track sold 237,000 copies when it debuted in July 2013 and only broke the 1,000,000 mark 5 months later in October. Take a look at Billboard’s half year charts for digital singles too. Album sales are down, and have been on the downward trend since 2010. Streaming and subscription revenues, on the other hand, are growing, climbing 51% in 2013 and crossing the $1bn mark (summary here; full report here). The head of Global Trends and Futuring for the Ford Motor Company has also been quoted as saying that “young people prize access over ownership.” So, what’s the issue? Is Spotify, together with the other streaming services simply ripping people off?

The issue may be that content creators don’t fully understand the service yet. Chances are that many users don’t understand the back-end either (they don’t really need to, in all honesty), so if you’re one of them, you might want to check out this post. Another post suggests that Spotify has not sufficiently controlled the narrative and has allowed content creators and the media replace fact with fantasy.

In the latter post (the Lefsetz Letter), the point is made, agreeing with Adele’s manager, that YouTube is by far the bigger monster, paying far less than Spotify does, closely followed by P2P platforms, which pay nothing at all. The post however disagrees with Adele’s manager on some music being taken behind the subscription pay wall, because that would simply push users to YouTube and P2P, leaving the content creators with nothing.

Does this mean anything for streaming in Nigeria? Probably not in the near future. Unreliable mobile internet and expensive data plans mean that very few people without WiFi modems stream much. Furthermore, given that most of our musicians give most of their music away for free downloads, there is little incentive to explore streaming anyway. So, perhaps the Nigerian market prefers ownership to access and this is all moot for now. But I’m an advocate for long-termism, and mobile internet will work someday and voice/data bundles will become more affordable for the streaming demographic. What then?

The current industry model will probably need to change in a year or two. Right now, the model for success is giving music away for free, hoping it becomes a hit that leads to RBT revenue and, ultimately, live performances. This sort of ties in with Dickins’s breakdown of how revenue streams for successful artists today –

60-65% of their income is going to come from tickets, 15-25% from tour merch, 10-15% from publishing, 2-4% from ancillary and 2-4% from record sales.” (Here’s the link again, just in case; emphasis in the quote mine).

You can see though that it’s significantly different, in that 70-90% of revenue will come from touring (not “shows”!) and tour merchandise. However, publishing revenues aren’t insignificant either. Enter, COSON (and its pursuit of digital royalties).

If RBTs are going to be the way forward here, then the crazy percentages that the telcos take of the gross revenue (60-72%, before VAS companies split the net with the artistes/labels) need to come down significantly. The music industry should lobby as hard as they can for legislation to support this (shouldn’t be too hard, with so many entertainers gunning for office in 2015).

If, on the other hand, the African market is to become as competitive as the foreign market, then the industry needs to support its domestic music streaming companies. Streaming kills piracy, and if the numbers are large enough (hint, hint, artistes and label execs), it will put money directly in their pockets. As Lefsetz says, “tech is all about scale” and “people who put brakes on the future end up screwing themselves.”

In conclusion, everyone knows that digital is here and analogue is gone. For Nigerian musicians to fully maximise  revenue from digital, given that their largest market is local, they may need to approach the issue a little differently.

Can Tambuwal Declare His Own Seat Vacant?

If, by some tragic stroke of misfortune, President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo and Senate President David Mark all died today, Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, would be sworn in as President of Nigeria. Yet, in response to his defection to the APC, Tambuwal’s security detail has been withdrawn.

 

The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police, in the attempt to justify his withdrawal of the security detail of the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, cited the following section of the constitution:

 

 

Section 68(1): A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if – (g) being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected; Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.

 

As far as the IG is concerned, it would seem that Aminu Tambuwal is not merely just no longer the Speaker – he isn’t even a legislator anymore. While former principal officers of the State still have state-provided security attached to them (and therefore cessation of office should not automatically mean withdrawal of security), the focus of this piece is the little constitutional crisis we have on our hands.

 

According to section 68(2), edited slightly for relevance, “the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall give effect to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of that member.”

 

Thus, Tambuwal is required to declare Tambuwal’s seat vacant, in the absence of evidence that there is a division in the PDP.

 

Since the events at the PDP’s convention last year led to several prominent members leaving the party for the APC, it has been the contention of the PDP that the legislative seats of those who crossed over to the APC be declared vacant, going by the provisions of Section 68(1)(g). According to them, as there is no division in the PDP, all legislative defectors must lose their seats. Should they?

 

The courts have not been very helpful with the interpretation of this section. In all the recent defection cases, even where splinter groups have held parallel congresses and elected their own officials, the courts have ruled that no division existed. They have however refused to describe what situation or circumstances they would see as constituting a division. And that remains the central issue.

 

However, even if there was a division in the PDP 12 months ago, there is also the question whether or not such division still exists. The dust has pretty much settled and everyone has gotten on with life in the new party. Or does the fact that the court’s final decision on the legislative defections so far mean that the “division” (if it is eventually ruled to exist) is a continuing one? We wait to see what the court will say.

 

To complicate matters for the PDP, who have asked Tambuwal to resign his office, the constitution is quite clear on how the Speaker may leave the office. Section 50(2) says –

 

The Speaker the House of Representatives shall vacate his office –

  1. if he ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives otherwise than by reason of a dissolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives; or

  2. when the House of which he was a member first sits after any dissolution of that House; or

  3. if he is removed from office by a resolution of the House of Representatives, by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House.

 

In other words, pending the final decision of the courts, Tambuwal has to declare Tambuwal’s seat vacant or the House has to impeach him, otherwise he remains in office. PDP does not have the required numbers to carry out the impeachment. Stalemate, for now.

 

Tambuwal ought to resign. It is the moral, honourable and statesmanlike thing to do. But he is not under any legal compulsion to do so. If he is as shrewd as is reputed however, he must have prepared for the very dirty fight ahead.