Nigerian Law Forum
Copyright Infringement in Nigeria
This post highlights 6 important tips on how to avoid Copyright infringement in Nigeria. Many times, writers are often at a crossroads when writing a piece. They come across materials that shed a ton of light on the particular topic they intend to explore but they do not know if using such material would amount to a copyright infringement or what amount of usage amounts to a copyright infringement. The truth is that there is a 90% chance that every work or material a writer comes across is subject to copyright. Therefore, writers must understand what copyright means.
Copyright is simply defined as the right granted by law to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby the author is invested with the exclusive privilege of multiplying copies of their work and publishing and selling them, for a fixed period (usually during the lifetime of the author and extends to 70 years after their death).
In Nigeria, the legal framework i.e the law that protects copyright is the Copyright Act LFN 2004. Section 1(1) of the Copyright Act listed the various types of works that are eligible for copyright which are as follows:
By section 14 of the Copyright Act, copyright is infringed by any person who without the license or authorization of the owner of the copyright-
(a) does, or cause any other person to do an act, the doing of which is controlled by copyright;
(b) imports into Nigeria, otherwise than for his private or domestic use, any article in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a) of this subsection;
(c) exhibits in public any article in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a) of this subsection;
(d) distributes by way of trade, offer 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 under paragraph (a)of this subsection;
(e) makes or has in his possession, plates, master tapes, machines, equipment or contrivances used for the purpose of making infringed copies of the work;
(f) permits a place of public entertainment or 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 used is not aware, and had no reasonable ground for suspecting that the performance would be an infringement of the copyright;
(g) performs or cause to be performed for the purposes of trade or business or as supporting facility to a trade or business or as supporting facility to a trade or business, any work in which copyright subsists.
To simplify Section 14, the following acts amount to an infringement of copyright
With the ease of access to materials on the internet, it is easy to fall victim to copyright infringement. While there is no exhaustive list of what to do to avoid infringing on a copyright, taking the following steps can help prevent infringing on existing copyright.
You might be familiar with the saying “ignorance is no excuse of the law”. This statement is very true when it comes to copyright. Your lack of understanding of the copyright laws only works to your disadvantage as a writer. In the event you infringe upon a copyright, you cannot claim ignorance as a defence. Therefore, you must understand the way copyright works. A good way to start is by reading articles on copyright from a legal standpoint and familiarizing yourself with the copyright laws in your country.
A good rule of thumb will be that you should assume all works you come across have copyrights. This will save the you the trouble of unintentional copyright infringement in Nigeria.
Generally speaking, it is advised that you should not use any work that isn’t originally yours. The reason for this is that you can’t be accused of infringement if you didn’t use the work in the first place. However, if you must use a work, ensure you obtain the permission of the author of the work.
The internet is by far the largest library when it comes to sourcing materials, the quick access to limitless resources makes it many writers' go-to sources. It is therefore good practice that whenever you source material online, you ensure you identify the copyright attached to the materials you come across.
The importance of consulting a lawyer can never be over-emphasized especially if you are in the business of writing or content creation. Whenever you are unsure as to whether or not your action would amount to infringing existing copyright, consult a lawyer. Although lawyers do not come cheap, it costs far less to consult one than defending a copyright infringement lawsuit.
You can avoid copyright infringement in Nigeria and save yourself from unnecessary lawsuit if you follow the above tips.