I really do not like writing about things that are trending on the internet for the reason that trends are contemporaneous. Trends come and go- no matter how long they last. This year, the hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls put truth to the theory that trends only come down to talking points, discussions that soon end when we tire of them. We never learn the lessons, and the values we rarely pick out. However, what trends are good at is that they numb vociferously, keeping readership commercial enough for newspaper houses like UK’s defunct News of the World to illegally eavesdrop on private phone conversations; constantly nudging the bloggers of this world to ‘borrow’ something without offering credit to their sources .
Justifiably, stealing a trend from somewhere else and presenting it to your social media audience or customers may make one look like the trend maker—and if you ask any online businessperson, trends sell like bags of rice at Christmas time. The hottest gist comes out of one blog so we go to that blog. The latest music videos come from one music station, so we all hub there. Trends are why big techy terms like collaborative filtering mean so much to the Jumias and Kongas of this world. Ever wonder why they always send you emails about bags, shoes or some particular gadget? Collaborative filtering; they are following what trends with you.
Yet, while the lure for uber culture platforms like Linda Ikeji’s Blog to always be the trend leader may probably never end because of our insatiable want for gossip, the blurred lines between whether or not to adhere to intellectual property rights in Nigeria, particularly online, will be increasingly put under scrutiny.
The attitude towards intellectual property must change, yes; but not by the diametric extreme that some have been so poised to pontificate in the last few days about our darling LIB. After all, there is a market for what she sells in Nigeria—and great potential to create jobs and contribute to our National GDP.
The thing is, intellectual property legalities can be as tricky as borrowing an idea rather than stealing it. With patents, we might have to wait until a patent is expired before it can be copied. The ideal here derives its merits from the fact that its owners should for a period, achieve economic gain from their discoveries before turning it over to others for the overall benefit of the public.
With copyrights, things are slightly trickier. And while the world denounces the kind of infringements that augur well at Alaba International Market, Lagos, the way to go for the billionaire pirates that run the place would be to proactively establish liaisons with the film makers whose films they mass produce to smoothen things with them before they start to mount pressure on our government to clamp down on operations. Alternatively, they could just start to produce Hollywood-standard films with the money they have made and continue to control the now $3Billion West African market of DVDs and CDs.
For bloggers like LIB and their now-known Achilles’ heel called plagiarism, learning cyber laws, hiring savvy staff writers to rewrite stories and offering credit where due for photographs would be the lesson we all can learn from her blog shutdown. The shift in attitude should be that intellectual property should not be something stolen but ‘something borrowed’.
About the Author: Nehi Igbinijesu is a Nigerian trained economist. He has worked at several banks in several positions. In addition to banking, Nehi has been a contributor to Connect Nigeria, anchoring the Discover Nigeria Series, a history project to depict positive elements about being Nigerian. He recently authored a soon-to-be-published book for mothers titled, The Code: A Story About Raising Great Women. He lives with his family in Lagos, Nigeria. You can follow him on Twitter at; @PNOigbinijesu