Off-Side! The Theft of Adeniyi’s Intellectual Property
Like most Nigerians, I was excited in the days leading to the formal launch of the book “Against the run of play: How an incumbent President was defeated in Nigeria” last Friday. The mouthwatering previews published on most media platforms guaranteed that. I was excited that on the eve of the launch I called the author, Olusegun Adeniyi, to book 20 autographed copies of the book for selected members of my Wattapps forum of technocrats, intellectuals and captains of industry. You can therefore imagine my shock and consternation when, within three days of its launch in Lagos, I received several PDF copies of the same book from numerous contacts through the same Wattapps platform!
I was instantly saddened and horrified that someone could spend years to produce a masterpiece of a book from which our society could draw useful lessons, only for some lazy crooks crouched over laptops in dinghy rooms to steal his intellectual property for undeserved profit with such effortless ease. It was yet another portent reminder that technology, like law, has also become an ass in our information age. It does the biddings of decent members of societies and criminals in equal measure. That cannot be right. Like the goal scored from an illegal position in a contentious soccer match, it was offside!
It was a serious crime. And like I noted at the time, from the illicit funds recovered at Sabon Tasha, Osborne Towers, and remote septic tanks and graveyards, to the relentless theft of intellectual property of which Adeniyi is only the latest victim and certainly not the last, Nigeria is now effectively a massive crime scene, in case we did not know it already.
The development is certainly a massive blow to wannabe authors and those involved in the creative arts. For as long as I can remember, the nation’s film and music industry have been serial victims of the brazen piracy of their products by local crooks and others linked to south-Asian decades. For as long as I can also remember, our local laws have failed woefully to deal with the problem. What happened to Adeniyi is therefore certain to reoccur again with all its devastating consequences.
In his online reaction to the development the author believed as much. “Though sad, it is a familiar story for me. In the case of my earlier book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’, it actually went viral on the day of presentation. So, that I enjoyed three days of grace this time is a bonus.” He added: “While I feel pained losing the revenue that could have accrued to me from online sales, I wrote the book because I believe it is an important story that should be documented and widely read. I have a feeling this book will be widely read, though at my expense and that of my publishers. But I am comforted by the fact that we are succeeding in dispelling the myth that Nigerians do not read. Nigerians do read. It is our task to write on what will interest them and present and package such in ways they will find appealing.”
The bigger challenge, of course, remains how to solve the problem altogether. Like a member of my forum pointed out, the law enforcement agencies have got their work cut out for them. While NASS have a duty to make laws, it is theirs to enforce the laws. Hence, it is imperative for them to wake up to their responsibilities. I agreed that while the case involving Adeniyi may attract all the media attention, the issue must be dealt with holistically. Numerous other uncelebrated victims abound. The poor artists who labour in vain to produce music and drama, only to suffer the ignominy of watching their works being sold in open markets across the streets of Nigeria equally deserve our sympathy.
My brother told me that about a decade ago, the famous American artist DMX visited Abuja and proceeded to the Wuse Market where he proceeded to destroy hundreds of pirated CDs being sold in the open. He succeeded because he was accompanied by armed Nigerian policemen. He succeded because he enjoyed VIP treatment at the time. if we could do that for a foreign artist, why not out own?
REACTIONS FROM MY PIECE ON THE REPAIR OF THE ABUJA RUNWAY
The piece I wrote last week on the repair of the Abuja runway elicited numerous reactions from readers. I have taken the liberty to reproduce the two below. Enjoy!
The "limited scope" of the Abuja airport runway rehabilitation is partly the reason for the resounding success of its implementation. With a longer completion period, of say two years, it's doubtful if the schedule would have been kept. Lethargy would have infested its implementation as civil servants and public officers look to other projects for their cut. Worse budgetary provisions are episodic as the Presidency appears unwilling to own all of its on-going projects in the face of the shenanigans of the legislators. Examples are the Ibadan- Ilorin and the Abuja Airport the Abuja- Kubwa expressways. The former is fourteen years on-going, the latter eight years - a check on the budgets of the period since the awards of their contracts will reveal years when no provisions were made for them. Contractors, even serious ones like Julius Berger, are wont to abandon projects in such situations.
More important, the implementation of the Mambilla hydroelectric power dam must be constantly interrogated. It should be president Buhari's legacy project, but from its snail-speed handling it's doubtful if construction will commence before 2019. Snoop around the concerned department to ascertain its status. What of the Gurara dam? All these should interest Northerners in view of the prevailing situation in the country.
M T Usman