Legal background

Scope and duration of copyright

Does copyright end immediately after the minimum period mandated by the Berne Convention? No
For literal, musical or artistic work, 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies; in the case of government or a body corporate, 70 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published; for cinematograph films, photographs, sound recordings and broadcasts, 50 years after author’s death or after year of first publication.
CA s.2 and Schedule 1
Has a court or tribunal ever limited the exercise of IP rights under competition law, for example by imposing compulsory licensing or regulating royalties charged by dominant rights holders? Yes
In as much as the law protects the copyright of authors, it also encourages people to employ the expressed ideas of others because it is only through that process that knowledge is generated for further use of all.
Has a court or tribunal ever limited the exercise of IP rights pursuant to a bill of rights or similar human rights instrument, for example by preventing copyright from being used to stifle protected speech? Yes
The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Any copyright law that is inconsistent with this provision is void to the extent of that inconsistency.
CFRN ss.1(3), 39
Can databases of non-original material be reproduced without infringing a copyright or sui generis database right? No
Compilation is copyrightable even if the database used comprises non-original material. Provided the database is put in a distinct material form it does not fall outside the scope of copyright.
Are rights holders prohibited from excluding user rights under copyright law? Yes
Though parties enjoy freedom of contract, they are not at liberty to contract outside an existing principle of law. The exceptions or limitations recognised in copyright law prevail over contracts purporting to override them.
Is computer software excluded from the scope of patentable subject matter?

Freedoms to access and use

By Home UsersIs there any general user right that is based on a set of balancing criteria, such as a "fair use" right? In part
Private use, non-commercial use, use for educational or research purposes, fair dealing, etc constitute exceptions to copyright infringement.
CA Schedule 2
Is time, space and format shifting allowed (such as ripping music from CD to an MP3 player)? No
Ripping music from CD to an MP3 Player is an infringement of copyright in the music.
Can consumers reproduce copyright material for their own use in the original format, for example for backup purposes? In part
If the reproduction is for private use, it is an exception to copyright infringement. If it is a re-arrangement of an old work which amounts to a new work, it is in itself copyrightable.
Can works be communicated to a limited public (for example, family and friends) without infringing copyright? Yes
If the communication is not a wholesale reproduction of a copyrighted work made for commercial purpose, it is not an infringement of copyright.
For EducationMay students copy works for private research or study? Yes
A student may photocopy or reproduce the entire copy of a text as long as it is for his private study and research.
CA Schedule 2
Does any such research and study provision cover distance and online education? Yes
It covers all forms of education. Both law and government have a policy of protecting the education of its citizenry; this cannot be sacrificed for the sake of individual copyright. Where there is an issue between protecting the right of an individual and the right of the citizenry, the law leans in favour of the citizenry.
May translations of works be made for educational purposes? No
A translation of a literary work in another language is entitled to a distinct copyright protection. The laws contrues the difference in language as distinction sufficient to differentiate the two works.
May educators copy works for use in the classroom? No
The benefit of using a copyrighted work for educational purposes is given only to individual scholars and not to educational institutions.
OnlineAre temporary or transient copies, incidental to a lawful use, excepted from copyright? Yes
The lawful use of a copyrighted work is guaranteed by law. By doing this, the law also guarantees all the temporary and transit facilities for the enjoyment of that right. To do otherwise will amount to giving with one hand and taking with the other which the law abhors.
Does the law exclude or limit the liability of intermediaries such as ISPs for copyright infringements carried out on their network? In part
If the ISPs are implicated in the infringement by 3rd parties, the law will impose liability on them despite the fact that they are intermediaries. If the ISPs are not implicated in the infringements by 3rd parties, they will not be made liable as the law does not necessarily punish one for the wrong of another.
Is Internet access free of ISP filtering or monitoring for potential copyright-infringements? Yes
Most ISPs are more or less novice in the scientific build-up of the Internet. They are not able to conduct filtering or monitoring for potential copyright infringing material. Sometimes when they are able to do it, they may not want to act as that may amount to sabotaging their own business and driving their customers away.
By content creatorsIs there any protection for consumers who non-commercially remix or mash up copyright works? No
For example, copyright may subsist in an arrangement of old music which amounts to new work. Again, an adaptation of an existing work for different instrument is eligible for copyright.
CA s.1(4)
May computer software be reproduced or transformed for the purpose of reverse-engineering interoperable software? No
It is the same position in law as re-arranging an old literary work to make it amount to a new work which is copyrightable.
Is the incidental inclusion of a work in other material permitted? No
If the work incidentally included is not acknowledged, this is an infringement. Moreover, copyright in a book of which “A” is the proprietor will not protect drawings or illustrations, the copyright of which is not vested in him, though such drawings furnish the illustrations of the book.
Is there are copyright exception for parody or satire? In part
The reproduction or publication of a copyrighted work by way of parody, pastiche, or caricature constitutes exceptions to copyright infringement. This list does not include the satire.
CA, Schedule 2 para (b)
By the pressIs there a copyright exception for the news of the day? Yes
The Copyright Act does not provide for exceptions for copying the news of the day. It is however the practice of newspaper editors when they wish to publish news of the day appearing in another newspaper, to ask for permission to do so, or at least, acknowledge their source.
May copyright material be reproduced for the purposes of review and criticism? Yes
Copyright material may be reproduced for review and criticism. This is one of the exceptions to copyright infringement.
CA, Schedule 2 para (a)
May quotations be used for any purpose? In part
Quotations may be eligible for copyright if sufficient efforts have been expended in making them to give them an original character. Otherwise, they may be used for any purpose.
CA s.1(2)(a)
By LibrariesMay libraries copy works if they cannot reasonably be obtained commercially? No
They cannot copy the works for commercial purposes without the license or authority of the original copyright owner. If the works have gone out of print, it is still the copyright owner who will re-issue them. If the owner refuses to license it, the library may seek compulsory licence from government.
CA ss. 37 and 38
May librarians copy works for users for the purpose of research or study? No
The libraries cannot. The right to copy someone’s work for the purpose of research or study is given directly to individuals. A scholar who wishes to do so may copy the work himself. The intermediary act of the library by doing such copying is not protected; it amounts to infringement of copyright.
Are libraries allowed to make preservation or archive copies of materials in their collections? Yes
They can do this to ensure that there is always a reserve copy of any book deposited with them. Researchers are to have access to the copies on the floor of the library. Should the library run out of copies of a particular book, the right thing to do is to ask the depositor/author to issue it a fresh copy.
Can lending libraries operate without incurring public lending rights fees to copyright owners?
By disabled usersIs it permissible to copy or adapt work for the use of those with disabilities? In part
There is no such provision in the Copyright Act. However, if such copying is for research and non-commercial use it may not be impossible to allow copying or adaptation.
In public affairsAre laws excluded from copyright? Yes
Laws are the product of the collective will of the people for their own good. The copyright belongs to the people who are encouraged to read and learn them. The fact that ignorance of the law is no excuse implies that people are punished for not seeking to obtain and read the law.
Are other governmental works either excluded from copyright, or routinely shared under permissive licences? No
The import of paragraph (1) of the 1st Schedule to the Copyright Act is that copyright may enure in some governmental works. Again, section 4 of the Copyright Act specifically provides for copyright in works of government, state authorities and international bodies.
Are the results of publicly funded research required to be published under an open access licence? No
Copyright in publicly funded research vests in the person or authority who commissioned the work.
CA s.10 (2)(a)

Freedoms to share and transfer

Do copyright owners have the right to release their works to the public domain, without any limitation on how those works may be used? Yes
Once the duration of copyright has elapsed, it falls into the public domain. A copyright owner may relinguish his copyright before he lapse of its duration if he so wishes.
Can public domain works be used without the need for any payment or registration of the use?
Does the law make special provision for the legal use of orphaned works? No
If a work is orphaned, its copyright enures until 70 years (for literary, musical or artistic works other than photographs) and 50 years (for cimematograph films, photographs, sound recordings and broadcasts) after the end of the year in which the work was first published. See the 1st Schedule to the Copyright Act.
Is parallel importation of copyright works permitted? No
Copyright can only vest in the local owner and any person claiming under foreign priority.
Are there national programmes or policies to promote the use, production or dissemination of openly-licensed material such as free and open source software or open educational resources? No
Are there national programmes or policies that specify or promote the use of open document formats? No

Administration and enforcement

What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for an individual? A fine of N500, 000.00 (five hundred thousand Naira) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both. CA ss.19 – 24
What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for a corporation? This is not provided for by the Act. But any director, manager, secretary or other official implicated in the infringement may be proceeded against and punished as an individual. CA s.22
Is innocent infringement of IP treated differently by the law? No
It is at the discretion of the judge. But large scale or flagrant infringement can always warrant examlpary damage.
Is the creation or distribution of devices that can circumvent technological protection measures (TPM) permitted, where such devices can be used for legal purposes? Yes
There is no specific provision on this in the Copyright Act, but generally, anything that does not amount to infringement of copyright is permitted.
CA s.15
Is the use of such devices by consumers or intermediaries permitted in the legal exercise of user rights? Yes
See explanation above.
Does national copyright or consumer protection law require that the effect of TPMs distributed with copyright works be disclosed to consumers? In part
Redress might be gained from the State Consumer Protection Committee in the case of material sold without notice of TPMs.
Are there cases in which the availability of injunctive relief for IP infringement is limited by the law on public policy grounds?
Does the law protect a user's Internet access from being suspended for alleged copyright infringement, except after a hearing in court? No
Indeed, they display notices to the that effect at their business premises.
Are criminal sanctions limited to cases of large-scale commercial counterfeiting? Yes
Liability is limited to anyone who makes or causes to be made for sale, hire, or for the purpose of trade or business any infringing copy of a work in which copyright subsists.
CA s.20
Are damages for copyright infringement limited to the loss sustained, rather than a pre-established or statutory damages award? Yes
The copyright infringer pays damages to cover the proceeds the copyright owner would have made had he sold the number of copies unlawfully reproduced and sold by the infringer.
Is there provision to penalise the wrongful allegation of copyright infringement? In part
The general tort of malicious prosecution may apply.
Is there provision to penalise the obstruction of consumers' exercise of user rights?
Does the patent system allow for pre-grant opposition?

Recent or upcoming changes

Summary of position

The Nigerian Copyright Commission is responsible for all matters affecting copyright in Nigeria as provided for in the Act. See for the activities of the Commission.

Copyright is enforceable in Nigeria by civil and criminal proceedings. Some important judicial decisions are Voltic Nig. Ltd. V. Group (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 821) p. 58 CA; Adenuga v. Ilesanmi Press & Sons Nig. Ld. (1991) 5NWLR 82 C; and Group Dawone v. Voltic Nig. Ltd. (2008) 7NWLR (Pt. 1087) 637 SC. Basically, the courts align the law of copyright with the inherent content of the Nigerian Legal System. For instance, it has been held that the use of Anton Pillar order in Nigeria is subject to the Constitutionally guaranteed right to private and family life.

Nigerian copyright law is strictly applied against any person who infringes copyright. It is however favourable in the sense that an individual consumer may use copyrighted materials if such use is for personal purposes.


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