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Punuka’s Media and Entertainment lawyers are pioneers in the industry in Nigeria and represent clients in contentious and non-contentious matters across the creative and cultural industries. The practice is headed by Isioma Idigbe a distinguished Partner and leading expert in media and entertainment law. The firm’s clients include foreign and local corporate entities, SMEs, record labels, management and production companies, theatrical exhibitors and distributors, A-list film and music artists, high-net-worth individuals investing in media and entertainment as well as government andregulatory authorities in the Nigerian Media and Entertainment Industry.
Proposed amendments to the Copyright Act, concerns about freedom of speech as well as the rapid usage increase in the OTT market have been among the most significant events in the Nigerian media industry in the past year.
It is noteworthy that there are two bills, namely the Executive Bill and the Private Member Bill as proposed by the Nigerian Copyright Commission and Senator Tokunbo Abiru.
The bills, as at the end of 2021, had undergone its public hearing with stakeholders providing insight into legislators on needed amendments to adequately harmonize both bills into one as well as the protection of rights holders to enable the monetize of their intellectual property.
The Bills introduce new provisions such as those relating to takedown procedures for digital infringement and ratification into law of several treaties on copyright which Nigeria has since been a signatory to.
Also, following the suspension of the social media platform Twitter in the Nigeria, the Federal Government reiterated its intention for all over-the-top platforms (OTT) to be licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission to operate in Nigeria.
Some opined that the licensing of the OTT would allow the government to levy tax and generate revenue from these platforms as well as monitor the spread of misinformation via such platforms.
There are also concerns about such regulations eroding citizens’ freedom of expression and access to information. Furthermore, the Nigerian legislature, in December 2021, passed the Finance
Act Finance Act 2021 which levies a tax on non-resident digital service providers in a bid to generate more revenue for the government. This new law has seen companies like META through Facebook charging 7.5% VAT on advertising services provided on the App.
A notable mention is the propagated Protection from Internet Falsehoods, Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill 2019 (otherwise called the Anti-Social Media Bill) which was met with great resistance as some believed that it was targeted at preventing independence for the press and the citizen’s right to know.
In addition, since the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown directives, Nigeria has seen an exponential increase in digital music consumption and subscription-based streaming. The end of 2021 saw the market entry of Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, all opening Nigeria operations and acquiring Nigerian content for their platforms.
Finally, the year 2022 is likely to bring the long-awaited passing of the Copyright Bill, increased regulation of social media platforms as well as major acquisition deals relating to multimedia content from Nigeria.
Amenawon Thelma Odiase &
Deborah Ekpen Okpiaifo
Associates in the Media, Entertainment, Intellectual Property & Technology Practice Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors