The Federal Government is to impose a two per cent tax on the values of mobile phones, computers, software, cameras, photocopiers, printing machines and CD players manufactured in the country or imported, the Director-General, Nigeria Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude, said on Thursday.
At a press conference on the achievements of the agency in Abuja, Ezekude stated that the order for the tax to be known as the Copyright Levy has already been gazetted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the modalities for its implementation are being negotiated with the Nigeria Customs Service.
Ezekude, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Aderemi Adewusi, said the new levy would be on a broad range of products capable of being used to infringe on the copyright of products and services, including computers, mobile phones and printing machines.
Generally, the levy will apply to such products whether they are imported into the country or they are manufactured within the shores of the nation.
The NCC boss said, “The Copyright Levy on Materials Order 2012 received the necessary approval from the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN.
“The levy order is applicable to all imported materials used or capable of being used to infringe copyright in a work, both imported and manufactured in the country, and it is designed to compensate the right owners for the envisaged infringement.
“It is one of the commission’s ways of generating income for the government, stakeholders and the commission. This was done after due consultation with stakeholders who have expressed satisfaction and appreciation over the levy order.”
Ezekude also said the agency destroyed by public burning, 722 million units of various copyright infringing products impounded between 2007 and 2011. The estimated value of the destroyed products was put at N6.5bn.
According to him, the value represents income that would have been diverted from legitimate rights owners as well as taxable income and revenue that would have been lost by the Federal Government.
The disposition of the offending materials, he added, showed the commission’s commitment to transparency in the discharge of its mandate and its determination to ensure that the offending products did not get back into circulation.
He also said the commission arrested 351 suspected pirates and secured 46 convictions between 2011 and January 2014 as against the 10 convictions recorded between 2000 and 2010.
Ezekude said, “For pirates and other copyright infringers, it is no longer business as usual. The pressure is being felt in all major hubs of piracy across all the geopolitical zones, and the impunity with which piracy and acts of infringement are being carried out is being curbed.
“The good enforcement regime is attracting more investments in the copyright-based industries. There is an increasingly favourable perception of Nigeria in the global fight against piracy. Consequently, Nigeria has been off the United States’ annually published list of copyright organisations and governments.”
He said the agency had also embarked on the reform of the copyright system with the aim of updating and upgrading the Nigerian Copyright Act to facilitate new innovations and models of access to knowledge, and to encourage and reward new forms of creativity.