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Intellectual Property Expert Asks NFVCB to Focus on Film Classification NOT Censorship

A US-based intellectual property lawyer has advised the National Films and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) to prioritize grading and classifying films over censorship and banning.

The NFVCB examines and classifies films before they can be released or shown in Nigerian cinemas.

It examines content for themes such as violence, sexual explicitness, drug use, and other potentially offensive material.

The board provides standards for filmmakers to acquire authorization and prevent censorship.

This can lead to self-censorship, in which filmmakers preemptively adjust their content to ensure it passes regulatory criteria.

Foreign films are also reviewed, with the NFVCB forming a mutual understanding agreement with OTT video platforms before distributing them locally.

The board also has the right to ban films or order cuts and modifications to scenes that are judged unsuitable.

According to NAN, Samuel Andrews, a professor of intellectual property law, believes that the NFVCB should focus on classifying film material.

Andrews described Nollywood films as accurately portraying Nigeria’s realities, culture, and history.

He did, however, voice concern that censoring or banning specific types of movies might hinder the inventiveness of industry practitioners.

The lawyer said that the NFVCB should focus on effective and realistic film regulation rather than banning or censoring.

“The government should revert to its drawing board and approach this issue smartly, based on the current global standards,” he suggested.

“National policies governing people’ behavior should not involve arbitrary abuse of power or infringement on citizens’ creative rights.

“The desired outcome of NFVCB properly implementing its duties should be to propel Nollywood’s creatives to spur Nigeria’s economic situation towards growth.”

Andrews recommended for changes to the NFVCB’s statutory and operational framework.

He stated that this will result in a more effective approach to controlling artistic and literary works.

In May 2024, Hannatu Musawa, the minister for culture and creative economy, enacted a regulation that prohibits ritual elements in Nollywood.

The legislation also prohibits the presentation of tobacco products, nicotine advertising, and glamorization in films, music videos, and skits.

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