Copyright Protection and Enforcement Rules - Legal Alert


Saturday, 28 September 2019   / 03.18PM / By Oserogho & Associates / Header Image Credit: Lawkick blog

Introduction and Definition


Copyright Protection is very important to every country's economic development as such protection motivates and promotes research, creativity and innovations. 

Copyright can be described as the monopolistic exclusivity that the Creator, Owner, Assignee or Licensee to a Literary, Musical, Artistic, Cinematograph Film, Sound Recording, Broadcast and other ancillary similar works, enjoy over the use and reproduction of a copyrighted work in any original published form, language or medium.



Advantages of Copyright Protection


One of the most obvious advantage of having protection to a copyrighted work is that it gives to its owner, assignee or licensee exclusive proprietary control over how the work can be used by other persons. 

The second advantage to copyright protection is the extensive civil and criminal penalties that any infringement to a copyrighted work attracts.

A third benefit is the international protection that is now available as a result of various national and international conventions' which protect copyright reciprocally.


Copyright Protection Tenures 

The Originator, Assignee or Licensee of Literary, Musical or Artistic works, other than photographs, retains exclusivity over their original work for the entire duration of their lifetime. Their estate however only enjoys such exclusivity for seventy (70) years after the originator of the work dies.

Owners of Cinematograph Films, Photographs, Sound Recordings and Broadcast Recordings enjoy copyright exclusivity for fifty (50) years after the end of the year when the copyrighted work was first published.

Registration of Copyright 

Ownership of Copyright is automatic in many jurisdictions. An elevated level of protection can however be accorded by the voluntary registration of the work with the Copyright Regulator in your country.


Civil Infringement and Reliefs 

A protected Copyright is infringed when a person, without a licence or authorisation of the Owner, Assignee or Licensee of such copyrighted work, exercises acts of control, use or performance of the work.

Some of the reliefs available to the Copyright Proprietor where his copyright is infringed or breached includes instituting a law suit at the Federal High Court closest to where the infringement occurred claiming for among other reliefs, Damages, an account of the revenues earned from such copyright infringement and an Injunction to restrain any further infringement of the Owner's Copyright.

No damages will however apply for a copyright infringement where the alleged offender was not aware and had no reasonable grounds to suspect that it was infringing on the rights of a Copyright Owner, Licensee or Assignee. Despite the latter, an account of the profits derived can be demanded for as compensation for the copyright infringement.


Criminal Infringement and Penalties 

Unless proven to the satisfaction of a Court of Law that an alleged copyright offender did not have prior knowledge or reason to suspect that he was dealing with a copyrighted work, such an alleged offender will be exposed to, in addition to some of the enumerated civil liabilities mentioned above, criminal liabilities for any copyrighted work that he reproduces or imports for sale, hire or for any trade or business benefit without the prior consent of the copyright owner.

The penalties if found guilty of any of the above offences is a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or to both the fine and the term of imprisonment.


Collecting Societies 

Any person or group of persons who are in the business of negotiating and granting copyright licences, collecting and distributing royalties in respect of such copyrighted works, on behalf of more than Fifty (50) owners, assignees or licencees, in any category of copyright protected works, must apply for and be issued a Collecting Society's Licence; or in the alternative, a Certificate of Exemption from the issuance of a Collecting Society's Licence by the Copyright Regulator.

In order to ensure that every Collective Society, which is also known as a Collective Management Organisation ("CMO") acts ethically when granting licences to copyrighted works to which the CMO actually have the legal authority to administer, collect and distribute royalties, the CMO must make available to its clients to whom copyright licences are granted, on non-discriminatory terms, the CMOs complete repertoire of the copyrighted works in respect to which the CMO has representative authority; with the tariff regime and usage measuring mechanism for the use of the copyright.

It is unlawful for any person or group of people to purport to perform the duties of a Copyright Collecting Society without the prior approval of the Copyright Regulator. Monetary fines and terms of imprisonment apply for any breach of this statutory pre-licence requirement. 



Copyright protection is continuing to be a very big global problem. Especially with the limitless sharing of content over the internet between various countries and continents. The latter makes national and international monitoring, tracking and enforcement of copyrighted works particularly challenging.

Weak institutional structures and the duplication of Collecting Societies or CMOs have served the interests of the copyright infringers more than those of the lawful owners of copyrighted works.

Copyright owners and users have also not elevated their personal education on copyright use and protection. Neither are there properly documented copyright agreements which will enable easier exploitation of the benefits which accrue from the use of a copyright.


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This is a free educational material. It does not serve as a source of solicitation, advertisement or the offering of legal services or advice of any kind. No Client/Attorney relationship is therefore created. Readers are strongly advised to always seek from qualified Legal Practitioners, competent legal counseling to their specific factual situation.

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