ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COPYRIGHTS IN NIGERIA
A copyright is the legal right that permits the inventor of an original work to exclusive use and distribution, usually for a limited time.
It is an absolute right granted by the statute to an author (i.e., an artist, architect, writer, performer, publisher, musician, photographer, sculptor and film maker) of precise works to control the doing of some acts in relation to the work. However these exclusive rights are not absolute: they are subject to certain limitations.
Copyright is governed by the Copyright Act in Nigeria and the Nigerian Copyright Commission is the body charged with responsibility of the enforcement and protection of copyright.
WORKS THAT ARE ELIGIBLE FOR COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
The following are the examples of works that are protected;
- Cinematography Works
- Artistic Work
- Literary Works.
- Sound Recording.
- Musical Works.
A literary, musical or artistic work shall not be eligible for copyright unless sufficient effort has been expended on making the work to give it an original character. Furthermore, a work must be adequately original for it to be eligible for protection, and must be in a form which is expressed. E.G. in painting, writing, a musical recording E.T.C therefore, you cannot have copyright protection over something that you have thought about but has not been expressed. Originality and expression are the most important factors for eligibility.
BENEFICIARY OF COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
An originator of a copyright work, usually referred to as the “author” of the work owns the copyright in the work but nevertheless, the author is at liberty to transfer his rights to a third party.
In such an instance, the person whom the right has been transferred to or through other legal means becomes the owner of copyright.
CO-OWNERS OF A COPYRIGHT
Persons shall be deemed to be co-ownersif they share a joint interest in the whole or any part of a copyright and also if they have interest in the various copyrights in a composite production, that is to say, a production consisting of two or more works.
SINGLE COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION FOR MORE THAN ONE WORK
Normally, each work should have its own copyright registration. However, someone may register works as a collection on one copyright with one title for the entire collection, as in the case of a music album with several songs. A movie in parts will be treated as separate works.
REGISTRATION OF A COPYRIGHT
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has established a voluntary copyright registration scheme, designed to enable authors and right owners notify the Commission of the creation and existence of a work.
HOW TO REGISTER FOR COPYRIGHT
A person can submit an application personally or via an agent for registration to any office of the Commission’s office nationwide and a completed registration form, along with copies of the work, and evidence of payment of the prescribed fee will be required to be submitted to the Commission.
RIGHT OF AN AUTHOR OR COPYRIGHT OWNER OF A WORK
An author or copyright owner has the following rights:
- The right to be acknowledged in any use made of his/her work
- The right to prevent any derogatory use, alteration, distortion and mutilation of his/her work
- The right to earn money of his/her work by determining the condition under which the work may be commercially used by a third party (economic rights)
DURATION OF COPYRIGHT PRTOTECTION
The author of a literary, artistic or musical work enjoys copyright throughout his lifetime and for 70 years after his death.
In the case of sound recordings, films, performances etc., the owner enjoys s Copyright for 50 years from the time the work was first published. The work goes to the public domain when the term of protection expires and third parties are allowed free use of it.
INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT
Copyright is infringed by any person who without the license or authorization of the owner of the copyright
- Does, or causes any other person to do an act, the doing of which is controlled by copyright
- Imports or causes to be imported into Nigeria any copy of a work which, if it had been made in Nigeria, would be an infringing
- Exhibits in public any article in respect of which copyright is infringed
- Distributes by way of trade, offers for sale, hire or otherwise or for any purpose prejudicial to the owner of the copyright, any article in respect of which copyright is infringed
- Makes or has in his possession plates, master tapes, machines, equipment or contrivances used for the purpose of making infringed copies of the work
- Permits a place of public entertainment or of business to be used for a performance in the public of the work, where the performance constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the work, unless the person permitting the place to be so used was not aware, and had no reasonable ground for suspecting that the performance would be an infringement of the copyright
- Performs or causes to be performed, for the purposes of trade or business or as supporting facility to a trade or business, any work in which copyright subsists.
ACTION FOR INFRINGMENT OF COPYRIGHT
Infringement of copyright shall be actionable at the suit of the owner, assignee or an exclusive licensee of the copyright, as the case may be, in the Federal High Court exercising jurisdiction in the place where the infringement occurred; and in any action for such an infringement, all such relief by way of damages, injunction, accounts or otherwise shall be available to the plaintiff as is available in any corresponding proceedings in respect of infringement of other proprietary rights.
Copyright is very important because it helps to create and protect the value of creative works.