Nigeria’s copyright legislations has certainly made giant stride in it attempts to meet up with international standards and development, of all the arms of intellectual property law, copyright can certainly be said to be the most developed in terms of complying with international treaty obligations. In order to achieve this, the principal Copyright Act of 1988 Cap. 68 which defined its nature as
“An Act to make provisions for the definition, protection, transfer, infringement of and remedy and penalty thereof of the copyright in literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, broadcast, and other ancillary matters”
has been subjected to several amendments; the first being in December of 1992 when the Act (Decree as it then was) was amended to include provisions empowering the Council to grant compulsory licenses in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to the Act, (See section 30A) and also the inclusion of provisions for the appointment of copyright inspectors (See Section 32A)
Under the Appointment of Copyright Inspectors Notice of 1st January 1997, further amendments to the Act were made wherein provisions were made for the appointment of Design Layout Copyright Inspectors. Further, on the 10th May 1999, the name of the administering agency was changed from Nigeria Copyright Council to Nigeria Copyright Commission. On the substantive aspect of the law, a new section 4A was introduced which provides thus:
(1) Copyright shall be conferred by this section on every work if –
(a) on the date of its first publication at least one of the authors is-
- a citizen of or domiciled in, or
- a body corporate established by or under the laws of, a Country that is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is a party;
(b) the work is first published –
- in a country which is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is party,
- by the United Nations or any of its specialised agencies, or
- by the Organisation of African Unity, or
- by the Economic Community of West Africa.
(2) Where the question arises as to whether a country is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is also a party, a certificate from the Commission to that effect shall be conclusive proof of that fact”.
Also provisions on the limitation of the right of action, anti-piracy measures, criminal liability in respect of infringement of folklore, expansion of the powers of copyright inspectors and so many others.
Works eligible for copyright
Section 1 of the Copyright Act provides that the following shall be eligible for copyright:
- literary works;
- musical works;
- artistic works;
- cinematograph works;
- sound recording; and
Under sub-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. Also artistic work shall not be eligible for copyright, if at the time when the work is made, it is intended by the author to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by any industrial process. Interestingly, the Copyright Act also provides that a work shall not be ineligible for copyright by reason only that the making of the work or the doing of any act in relation to the work involved an infringement of copyright in some other work.
Though the Act does not provide for the registration of copyright, in practice the Commission has a “deposit system” which for all intent should fairly appropriate the commencement date of any copyright in dispute.
Terms of copyright:
|Type of work||Date of expiration|
|1||Literary, musical or artistic works other than photographs.||Seventy years after the end of the year in which the author dies; in the case of government or a body corporate, seventy years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.|
|2||Cinematograph films and photographs.||Fifty years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.|
|3||Sound recordings.||Fifty years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made.|
|4||Broadcasts.||Fifty years after the end of the year in which the broadcasting first took place.|
The Federal High Court as a court of first instance has exclusive jurisdiction for the trial of offences or disputes arising from copyright matters.