Copyright is a form of intellectual
property. It has been defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition as a right
granted to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic
productions, whereby the creator is invested, for a limited period, with the
sole and exclusive privilege of multiplying copies of the literary or artistic
works and publishing or selling them.

The Copyright
Act Chapter C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (Copyright Act), 
not define the word “works”. However, Section 1 (1) of the Copyright
Act provides that the following shall be eligible for protection:

                    a)   Literary
                    b)   Musical
                    c)    Artistic
                   d)   Cinematographic
                    e)    Sound
                    f)     broadcasts
Any work that is created which does not
fall under the foregoing categorisation cannot vest copyright in its creator.
Furthermore, it is not sufficient to have created a work; such work will only
be eligible for legal protection if:
“(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.”
It can be gleaned from the above statutory
provision that the moment a literary, musical or artistic work has been fixed
in a definitive form and effort has been expended on the work to give it an
original character, it qualifies as a work eligible for protection.
Originality within this context does not
connote inventiveness or novelty. It simply denotes that the work was not
copied or plagiarised. It is therefore pertinent to note that copyright does
not protect ideas and copyright is acquired by expending skills on a work and
not by invention.
Copyright does not need to be
registered to enjoy protection
Unlike other forms of intellectual property
like patents, designs and trademarks, a work that is eligible for copyright
does not need to be registered in order for it to enjoy legal protection. An
eligible work enjoys protection as soon as it is created and fixed in a
definite medium.
However, the Nigerian Copyright Commission
(NCC) provides owners of copyrights the option to deposit a copy of their works
with the NCC and receive a certificate which serves as notification of the
existence of the work to the general public. Section 34 (2 (3) of the Copyright
Act states that the NCC is also required to maintain an effective data
bank on authors and their works.
Duration of copyright
Literary, musical or artistic works
 Copyright in literary, musical or
artistic works other than photographs lasts until seventy (70) years following
the death of the author. In cases where the work is owned by a government or a
body corporate, the copyright in the literary, musical or artistic work will
expire seventy (70) years after the work was first published.
Films, photographs and sound
Copyright in films and photographs lasts 50
years after the year the work was first published. Copyright in sound
recordings also lasts 50 years after the recording was first published.
Under part 2 of these series, we will
examine in depth the nature of works that are eligible for protection, how a
work can be protected and the remedies available to the owner of a work when
his copyright is being infringed.
Davidson Oturu MCIArb
Partner, Intellectual property and brand

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