Scope of Copyrights Protection in Nigeria
The extent to which the law protects a work’s copyright is referred to as its scope. Because determining the property rights of individual copyright holders is challenging, this explanation is required. Individual work is rewarded by copyright protection, which invariably benefits society.
The primary goal of copyright protection is to ensure that writers and owners of works are treated fairly. Article 27 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: ‘Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is an author.’
The level of protection given to literary and artistic works has a direct impact on the enrichment of national cultural heritage. Copyright protection makes sense for the author of works only if the creator obtains advantages from the works. The most important function of Copyright protection is to promote and enrich the nation’s cultural legacy.
The primary goal of copyright protection is to protect a work’s creator from infringement, to ensure commercial exploitation, and to encourage new ideas. The primary goal of copyright law, according to the modern interpretation, is to promote public welfare through the advancement of knowledge, with the specific goal of encouraging the creation and distribution of new works for the public; it gives creators incentives by granting them exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute their works.
The free flow of information and ideas is not intended to be hampered by copyright protection. The purpose of copyright protection is to promote the spread of ideas by safeguarding the embodiment or expression of an idea in a creative work while reserving ownership of the work to the creator.
According to Ghosh, ‘the boundaries of copyright are far from clear and difficult to discern as copyright law lacks analogous limits on the scope of the copyright owner’s property interest, except for the boundaries imposed by the limits of fair use, misuse, and express statutory exceptions.’
But, statute can highlight specifically what the right includes. Even while determining the exact scope of copyright owners’ property interest for the purposes of quantification may be challenging, the extent of the right protected by law can be deduced from the law itself. For instance, section 6 of the Copyright Act provides:
‘(1) Subject to the exceptions specified in the Second Schedule to this Act, copyright in a work shall be the exclusive right to control the doing in Nigeria of any of the following acts, that is-
(a) In the case of a literary or musical work, to the and authorise the doing of any of the following acts- (i) reproduce the work in any material form; (ii) publish the work; (iii) perform the work in public; (iv) produce, reproduce, perform or publish any translation of the work; (v) make any cinematograph film or a record in respect of the work; (vi) distribute to the public, for commercial purposes, copies of the work, by way of rental, lease, hire, loan or similar arrangement; (vii) broadcast or communicate the work to the public by a loudspeaker or any other similar device; (viii) make any adaptation of the work; (ix) do in relation to a translation or an adaption of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-paragraphs (i) to (vii) of this paragraph.’
However, the Act identifies the types of works that are protected, and it is these works that we will be looking at. The Act defines “work” as “translations, adaptations, new versions, or arrangements of pre-existing works,” as well as anthologies or collections of works that present an original character due to the selection and arrangement of their content.
The works that are protected are enumerated in section 1 of Part I of the Act, as well as sections 26 and 31 of Part II. It’s unclear why these works are highlighted in different areas of the Act. What is evident is that the Act is patterned after the now-defunct British Copyright Act of 1956. Under the current British law on the topic, the Copyrights, Designs, and Patents Act, 1988, this trend has been abandoned.
Literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, transmissions, and works of architecture are all protected under section 1 of the Act. Sound recording is defined as the first fixation of a sequence of sound capable of being perceived aurally and reproduced, but does not include a soundtrack associated with a cinematograph film.
While broadcast is defined as sound and television broadcast by wireless telegraphy or wire, or both by satellite or cable programs, including re-broadcast, sound recording is defined as the first fixation of a sequence of sound capable of being perceived aurally and reproduced.
A cinematograph film, on the other hand, is described as the first fixation of a sequence of visual images capable of being presented as a moving picture and of being reproduced, including any related sound track records.
Furthermore, musical works include any musical composition, regardless of musical quality, as well as works composed for musical accompaniment, whereas artistic works include paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, engravings, and prints; maps, plans, and diagrams; sculpture; photographs not included in a cinematograph film; and so on. Novels, stories, poems, plays, stage directions, cinema scenarios, broadcasting scripts, choreographic works, computer programs, and other literary works are all included in this definition.
The form in which the idea is conveyed is the main focus of copyright in these works, not the idea itself. In other words, copyright protects the way ideas are expressed, not the ideas themselves. Works are protected regardless of their content, duration, purpose, form, or even quality. Copyright, on the other hand, cannot be assigned to a single word.
This principle was upheld in the English case of Exxon Corp v. Exxon Insurance Consultant. In that case, the claimants objected to the use by the defendant of “Exxon” as part of their corporate name. They secured relief against passing off; but on the claim for infringement of copy right in the word, they failed before the court of first instance and on appeal to the Court of Appeal, the court held, per Stephenson L.J., relying on a section in the repealed English Copyright Act 1956 similar to section 1 of our Act, as follows,
…that for which protection is sought in the instant case does not appear to me to have any of the qualities which common sense would demand. It conveys no information; it provides no instruction; it gives no pleasure that I can conceive; it is simply an artificial combination of four letters of the alphabet which serves a purpose only when it is used in juxtaposition with other English words, to identify one or other of the companies in the claimant group.
Part II of the Act introduced a different class of works falling under copyright protection. These works are termed neighbouring rights. According to Adewopo:
Neighbouring rights concept was imported into the Nigerian copyright law in keeping with the international intellectual property architecture in the context of extending protection to related rights such as live performances. The protection of these rights was already captured in international instruments such as the Rome Convention for Protection of Performers, and Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations and WIPO/UNESCO initiative on protection of folklore.
Read also: Overview of Copyright in Nigeria
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