A copyright is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work the exclusive right to use and distribute that work for a limited time. It is subject to certain limitations because it is not an absolute right. It is, therefore, important to understand the essential elements of a Copyright protection in Nigeria.

The Protection

Copyright in Nigeria is protected by the Copyright Act and is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). Under this Act, literary, artistic and musical works are protected, along with sound recordings, broadcasting and cinematography.

This means that if you are a creative artist, writer, composer, filmmaker, music publisher or any other creative content curator, the Copyright Act will protect your work from being duplicated or shared without your authorization. It also gives you the right to regulate the way third parties use your work in terms of distributing, adapting, lending and performing it in public.

The Duration

A key fact to know about copyright is that it does not last forever. There is a time limit attached to different kinds of work which you need to be mindful of. For literary, musical or artistic works (excluding photographs), the copyright will last until 70 years after the end of the year the author of the work dies. For photographs and films, the copyright lasts for 50 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published. Lastly, copyright in sound lasts for 50 years after a recording was first published.

The Enforcement

When an idea is transformed into a work that is tangible and real, it automatically becomes protected by copyright. Under Nigerian law, you do not have to register a copyright. However, you can choose to register your work with the NCC and deposit a copy with them to serve as a notification of the existence of your work to the public.

The Infringement

It is an infringement of copyright to copy large portions of a copyrighted material without the permission of the owner of the copyright. Not only do you require the copyright holder’s permission, you must also acknowledge the owner of the work when you use or share their work. It is, however, important to note that you don’t need to ask for the permission of the copyright holder when you are using the copyrighted material for non-commercial or educational purposes.

To register a copyright with the NCC, you need to submit a completed registration form, two copies of the work and pay the prescribed fee.