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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nigeria yet to ratify Internet treaties

By Remmy Nweke

Despite being a signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO’s) Internet Treaties, Nigeria is yet to ratify the treaties according to the coordinator, National Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG), Mr. Basil Udotai.

Treaties are usually international agreements between two or more countries addressing specific issues of global concern. While ratification of treaties entails formal giving of consent to already endorsed agreement so as to make it binding among ratifying nations or governments and often require local legislation.

Speaking at a one-day seminar on ‘Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in the Digital Economy’ Mr. Udotai who deliberated on “The challenges of managing IPRs as Digital Rights under Nigerian Last,” informed that several years after the initial signatory to the WIPO Internet treaties, Nigeria is yet to ratify it.

He also said that the position of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in relation to transmissions possible of infringement is still uncertain within what is obtained in the country today.

Pointing out that restriction against unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials could prove very difficult to extend to ISPs in the country.

This, he said, is so especially with the non-ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties, since Internet is a global resource, even as taking up someone on anti-circumvention provisions remains doubtful of making a good outing in the nation’s law court.

As said by the lawyer cum ICT advocate, the Copyright Act of 1988 protects computer programmes as literary works, as stipulated in Section 39 subsection 1.

As such, many vendors in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the country, are faced with the difficulties of how to safeguard trade secrets, usually embedded in programming codes, from employees who work to develop solutions based on these codes.

The doctrine of “Work for Hire”, he said, enables employers to have proprietary rights exclusively against everyone and specifically the employees.

Mr. Udotai also pointed out that many of IPR digital related cases are subjects currently waiting for judicial determination and pronouncement in the country.

He told participants at the first seminar to be organized by NCWG in collaboration with IPR Nigeria chapter that some dispute resolution mechanism, have been developed with peculiar regard to the domain name disputes by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

“Currently domain names on the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD .ng) complaints could be made to NITDA,” he said.

NCWG was set up in April 2004 as a follow up to the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Illegal Online Activities, which was presided over by the National Security Advisor.


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