Copyright Infringement in Nigeria

Published on: March 1, 2021 (Updated on: April 28, 2024)

Copyright Infringement in Nigeria

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.

What does Copyright mean?

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). 

Works that can be protected by Copyright in Nigeria

Works that can be protected by Copyright in Nigeria

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:

What acts would amount to copyright infringement in Nigeria?

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

  1. making copies of works protected by copyright or publishing same; 
  2. importing articles that infringe on copyright;
  3. displaying in public an article that infringes upon a copyright, 
  4. distributing or offering to sell or do anything in a similar line that will negatively affect the author's ability to earn on the work.
  5. possession of works protected by copyright to make copies without permission 
  6. anyone who permits a place of entertainment or business to be used to perform work that infringes on a copyright 
  7. anyone who performs any work which has copyright.

How to avoid copyright infringement in Nigeria as a writer:

You can avoid copyright infringement in Nigeria by understanding the copyright law

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.

1. Understand the copyright laws

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. 

2. Assume every work is subject to copyright

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.  

3. If you must, seek permission before using any work that isn’t yours

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.

4. Fully understand the rights granted when permitted to use a work

Similarly, when granted permission to use a work, thoroughly digest the right given and the conditions attached thereto. It is important that you read and understand the Terms of Use before using any work to avoid copyright infringement in Nigeria. 

5. Check for a copyright license, when using work sourced on the internet 

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.

6. Consult a lawyer

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.


Adeyinka Ayoade