Understanding the Importance of the Open Access to Content in Nigeria in the Light of Current Copyright Law Reforms
In the area of knowledge governance today, it is no longer in doubt that ‘open’ is an important and emerging paradigm and philosophy. The shift from strictly closed and proprietary forms of knowledge governance is irrefutable and the notion of exclusive and absolute control over their content by authors is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule. This has resulted in the proliferation of different concepts, models and mechanisms of knowledge governance such as Open Access publishing, Open Education Resources, Open Data. Alongside these are new forms of licensing including Creative Commons, GNU, etc.
There are good reasons for this trend. The concept of Open comes with great merits in addition to the fact that it is in perfect alignment with digital technology as the principal means of knowledge production and dissemination today. The philosophy of ‘open’ in knowledge governance and its merits can be seen in both the public and private sectors in education, research, governance.
For a country in the process of reforming its copyright laws to align with current requirements of the digital age, the concept of ‘open’ cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, it is clear that the philosophy of ‘openness’ in any form of knowledge governance is still a strange phenomenon in Nigeria. The level of awareness and scale of implementation of the different models of openness in knowledge governance in the country are insignificant in proportion to its size, needs and population. Reasons for this include lack of awareness and misconceptions about concepts and models, particularly Creative Commons and Open Access publishing. For instance, despite the increasing recognition of and justification for the use of Creative Commons licenses, the mainstream Nigerian populace in the creative industry regards it with misgivings and suspicion. There is indeed a strong perception of CC among the stakeholders as a threat to their interests as copyright owners. Lack of awareness also exists in the academia and among key policy makers, including members of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), an institution which holds the sole mandate of regulating and administering copyright in Nigeria under the Nigerian Copyright Act of 1988. These concerns clearly underscore the importance and imperative for enlightenment programs on CC in particular and open access practices and policies in knowledge governance generally in Nigeria. This imperative is further strengthened by the fact that Nigeria is on the threshold of amending her extant copyright statute in response to digital technology. Amending the law without properly integrating the philosophy of ‘open’ and the diverse models in knowledge governance developed on the basis of the philosophy would constitute a serious setback to knowledge governance in Nigeria.
This meetup is designed to fulfill this need. It will provide a platform for CC Nigeria to discuss with provide adequate knowledge of CC to the NCC and other policy makers and stakeholders in the academia and the creative industry as a whole. Such knowledge would be useful in providing them with enough understanding of the objectives of CC and the modalities of the licenses and thus help to clarify existing misconceptions and misgivings over CC.