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What You Should Know About Copyright

If you think copyrights are not a big deal, you need to think again! Ignorance is not an excuse for violating the copyright law. Here are basic points to help you understand what copyright is and how it works: What is copyright? A copyright is the legal property right that an author has over his […]

If you think copyrights are not a big deal, you need to think again! Ignorance is not an excuse for violating the copyright law.

Here are basic points to help you understand what copyright is and how it works:

What is copyright?

A copyright is the legal property right that an author has over his /her work. This right gives the author protection, exclusivity and control over his/her work. It covers anything expressed with originality and creativity such as art, music, photography, books, broadcasts etc. In Nigeria, copyright is protected by the Copyright Act and administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

What can I do with my copyright?

As a copyright owner, you enjoy the privilege to control how your work is used by others. Acknowledgement is given to you when it is used and you earn money by dictating the terms under which your work can be used. You get to control the following:

  • Reproduction and distribution
  • Public performance, display, or recording
  • Creation of new works based on the material

How do I know a work is copyrighted?

The moment a work is created and expressed in a tangible form, it is copyrighted.  It automatically receives a legal protection. As long as you did not create that piece, you are not eligible to use it until you obtain permission from the owner. Failure to do so will lead to a case of copyright infringement.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright Infringement is unauthorised use, display, reproduction and distribution of works protected under the copyright law. Anyone who violates the copyright law has committed a criminal violation and is liable to pay fines or even get imprisoned. Refer to Section 18 of the Copyright Act.

How long does a copyright protection last for?

The owner of a piece enjoys copyright throughout his lifetime with an additional 70 years after his/her death. As soon as this period expires, the work goes into the public domain and is allowed free use. 

Do I need to register my work?

According to the Nigerian Copyright Commission, you do not need to. As soon as the creative piece is expressed in a tangible form (paper copy, CD, disk, videotaped performance), it is automatically copyrighted.

However, for the purpose of verification of claims made by an author, and for the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to maintain an effective databank of authors and their creations, they have established the Nigerian Copyright e-Registration System (NCeRS) to enable authors register and inform them of their work. This will also serve for public notification of the work.

How do I register my work?

You can register online by completing the form or submitting your application to any of the Commissions office nationwide. You will need to submit to the Commission:

  • A completed registration form
  • Two (2) copies of your work
  • Evidence of payment of the registration fee which costs N10, 000. Payment can be made online or in any bank

Registration forms are obtainable online or any of the Commission’s offices nationwide.

For more information on copyright issues, visit the Nigerian Copyright Commission website.