For over 30 years, the old Copyright Act has governed the protection and administration of musical, literary, and artistic work in Nigeria. The Copyright Act, of 1992 was not without its shortcomings which stakeholders continued to observe with the passage of time.
However, on the 17th day of March 2023, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed the copyright bill into law.
This new Act introduces new provisions and ratifies outstanding treaties. In this article, we will be considering key provisions within the new Act and how this applies to creators and inventors in Nigeria.
Before we go into details of the new Act, it is important we establish the following facts;
a. Copyright is a right given to an owner to do certain things related to his or her creative work exclusively. E.g the right of an author to control reproduction, distribution, and other uses of his or her book
b. Specifically, persons who enjoy copyright include; authors of written works, filmmakers, producers, musicians,
c. In Nigeria, not every work qualifies for Copyright protection. The Act lists six categories of works that are eligible for copyright protection – literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, and broadcasts.
A BRIEF BACKGROUND TO THE NEW COPYRIGHT ACT
The new Copyright Act was borne as a result of the change in the way creative works were being exploited particularly as it concerns the influence of technology over the creative industry. In summary, the aim of the new Copyrights Act is to move the Nigerian Copyrights system from analog to digital.
SOME KEY PROVISIONS CREATORS SHOULD TAKE NOTE OF
1. The new definition of Copyright under the Act
The definition of copyright to literary and musical works has been amended to include the right of a creator to set up digital logs/log-ins for members of the public to gain access to their works from any place or at any time chosen them. See Section 9 paragraph (i) of the Copyright Act
2. Copyright owners can issue notice to take down in the event of infringing online content
Sections 54 and 61 of the Act entitles a copyright owner whose online content is infringed upon to issue a takedown notice to the relevant service provider to take down or disable access to any infringing online content or link to such content on its system or network. It also provides procedures with which such service providers must follow in situations where the infringing content emanates from one of its subscribers.
Furthermore, the Act gives the Nigerian Copyright Commission the right to independently or with the assistance of any person, block or disable access to any content, link, or website hosted on a system or network, which it reasonably believes to infringe copyright under this Act. See Section 61 of the Act.
3. Stiff sanctions for circumvention of technological protection measures
Section 51 (3) defines technological protection measures to mean;
“… a technology, device, product or component incorporated into the work which is designed to effectively prevent or inhibit the infringement of any copyright or related right
To circumvent a technological protection measure is also defined by the Act as;
“… avoiding, bypassing, removing, deactivating, decrypting or otherwise impairing a technological protection measure”
Section 52 of the Act for instance, states that a person who imports technology or device with the aim of circumventing a technological protection measure shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N1,000,000 (one million naira) or at least 5 years imprisonment or both.
4. Increased enforcement powers of the Nigerian Copyrights Commission
Apart from the general functions and powers of the Commission, Section 78(3) of the Act provides additional enforcement and compliance powers of the Commission which were not provided for by the repealed Copyrights Act LFN 2004.
Some of these powers include powers to;
i. Demand for evidence of compliance from persons, public or private institutions, and organizations
ii. Caution a non-compliant person or entity in writing
iii. Impose administrative fines on non-compliant persons
iv. Independently or with the help of any person, block or disable access to any content, link, or website hosted on a system or network, which it reasonably believes to infringe copyright.
5. Establishment of a dispute resolution panel
Under the new Act, the Nigerian Copyrights Commission may establish a panel to resolve disputes arising from;
i. the payment of royalties
ii. terms of a license
iii. any matter in respect of which a determination by the Commission is required under this Act, etc.
Where a party is dissatisfied with the decision of the panel, such a party may apply to a court for a review of the said decision.
6. Addresses the needs of the blind, visually impaired, or print disabled ;
In line with the Marrakesh Treaty to which Nigeria is a signatory, the new Act provides special exceptions for blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print-disabled persons.
Section 26 of the new Act provides a special exception clause that enables authorized persons to obtain a copy of a work and supply it to blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled persons without necessarily obtaining the consent of the owner of the copyright in a work.
For copyright owners to enjoy legal protection under the Act, the work in question must;
a. Be either; literary work, musical work, artistic work, audiovisual work, sound recordings, or broadcasts.
b. Must have an original character
c. Must be fixed in a medium of expression
Furthermore, the author of such work must be a Nigerian citizen, reside in Nigeria, or be a company incorporated in Nigeria and the work must have been first published in Nigeria. Foreign authors, corporate bodies, or government organizations can also enjoy copyright protection in Nigeria so long as such authors and organizations are from countries that are parties to International treaties and agreements that Nigeria is a party or signatory on the day a copyrighted work is published.
Having examined the new Copyright Act, it is safe to say the Act is a welcome development as it enhances protective rights for physical works and has created new measures to effectively protect digital works. This provides the needed intervention for digital creators particularly at a time when technological advancements have given rise to new forms of copyright infringements we couldn’t have envisaged years ago.
Are you a digital creator, content writer, actor, musician, sound recording artist, or creator of any form of literary, musical, or artistic work (physical or online)? Do you need guidance on how to protect your work or inventions?
Feel free to reach out to us through the Whatsapp icon on the lower right part of this page or HERE. And we will be delighted to assist you.
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