Copyright Protection in Nigeria


By Benita Ayo

These days, people are putting their intelligence to use and creating ideas worth millions of Naira as well as jobs by the hundreds.

However, what many people don’t know is that the results of their intellectual work/endeavour are products which are protected by the law against infringement by outsiders.

Copyright is one of the types of intellectual property and it is a legal right which grants the creator of original work exclusive rights to determine and decide whether and under what conditions this original work may be used by others.

As stated earlier on, copyright is a form of intellectual property which is applicable to certain forms of creative work such as; musical compositions, cinematograph works/films, musical productions, scripts (films, plays), and political speeches or mantra, etc.

Laws Regulating Copyright in Nigeria

Generally, intellectual property is a revolving aspect of law in Nigeria as compared to other jurisdictions like the United States of America. However, the principal law regulating copyright protection in Nigeria is the Copyright Act CAP C28, LFN 2004.

According to Section 1 of the Act, the category of works eligible for copyright protection includes; literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph works, sound recording, and broadcasts.

According to Section 2 of the Act, “A literary, musical or artistic work shall not be eligible for copyright unless-

(a) Sufficient effort has been expended on making the work to give it an original character,

(b) The work has been fixed in any definite medium of expression now known or later to be developed, from which it can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of any machine or device.”

The purport of the above section is to the effect that literary, musical or artistic work will not be eligible for copyright if it is shown that much effort has not been expended in creating the original character of the work or the work is already in existence in another form and is copied or imitated from the original. For instance, there is a practice in musical circles where the original song of an artiste is remixed.

A remix is the alteration of the original piece of an artistic work by adding and removing certain pieces of the original work to be replaced by a new piece. A song, piece of artwork, photograph or book can all be remixed. A remix changes or appropriates other materials to create something new.

Thus, any remixed media or idea is not eligible for copyright by virtue of Section 2(b) of the Copyright Act stated above.

Infringement of Copyrighted Works

According to an online source, Infringement is the encroachment, breach, or violation of a right, law, regulation, or contract. In my own view, infringement is the action of breaking the terms of a law or agreement. It is also the invasion of the exclusive right of use of a person’s creative property. The term ‘Infringement’ is mostly used in relation to intellectual property.

On the other hand, copyright infringement is the use of works protected by the copyright law without permission of the owner, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

If for instance, as a photographer you took the photograph of a celebrity or Very Important Personality (VIP), the exclusive rights of use in such photograph belongs to you because the final product is the result of your intellectual work editing and enhancing the photographs. Even the celebrity or VIP whose image is the subject-matter of the photograph will be infringing your copyright if it is used without your permission.

Condition for Enjoying Copyright Protection

It must be noted that the right to exclusive use of an intellectual property is not automatic nor is it absolute as it is only protected for a limited period of time. I shall discuss on the limitations of copyright in a subsequent write-up.

Like I said in the preceding paragraph, the exclusive right of use of an intellectual property is not automatic, yes this is because in order to enjoy your intellectual product, you are required by law to register works eligible for copyright with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

(Look out for more on this in a subsequent write-up.)

Benita Ayo is an Associate with Ayodele, Olugbenga & Co, 9th Floor, UBA House, Marina Lagos, Nigeria. She may be contacted on WhatsApp: 08063775768 and email: [email protected].

For more particular discussions on Intellectual Property Matters, kindly contact her through the aforementioned social media address.

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