Berkeley Legal | Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (Part 1) – Copyright
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07 Sep Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (Part 1) – Copyright

Intellectual property law governs intangibles otherwise known as ‘creations of human intellect’. Intellectual property laws are very useful and supports industries, ranging from the food industry, fashion industry, telecommunication, Art and entertainment, technology etc. which contribute billions of dollars to the Nigerian economy.

This snippet explores copyright; what it is, the types of work it protects, how it can be acquired, its duration, ownership of copyright and the rights granted by copyright.

What is Copyright?

Copyright grants authors exclusive right over work they have created, including the right to stop others from copying their work without the owner’s permission or treating the work derogatorily.

Copyright is important, as it enables authors to fully exploit (monetary or otherwise) the works created by them. It also helps to foster creativity by giving authors incentives to produce special/unique work, knowing that their works can be protected from being copied by others.

Ownership of Copyright work

The author of the work is the usually the owner of the copyright. However, in the case of an employee doing work for the employer, the employer will usually be the owner.  Copyright ownership can be transferred by the author to third parties.

Works protected under Nigerian Copyright Law.

The following works are protected under the Copyright Act and in brackets, are some examples of the types of work that fall within the category:

  • Literary works; (this includes work such as poems, books, computer programmes)
  • Musical works; (the score of the music)
  • Artistic works; (paintings, sculptures)
  • Cinematograph films;
  • Sound recordings;
  • Broadcasts

For a work to qualify for copyright it has to fit into any of the above categories, be in a form which is expressed (writing, recorded etc) and has to pass the requirement of originality.

The authors creation does not need to be inventive or new, the idea just needs to originate from the author and should not be copied from anywhere else. The work to be granted copyright also needs to demonstrate that a sufficient amount of effort was used in producing the work. Satisfying the originality requirement is a key part of any successful copyright claim.

 Registration of Copyright in Nigeria

Once the copyrightable work is created; the author automatically gains copyright and does not need to register their rights. However, it is advisable to register your copyright as it provides an independent record/proof of the author’s work, in case of future dispute.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) offers an optional registration process. This can either be done online or in person at the NCC’s office. In order to do this, a registration form needs to be completed, accompanied with two copies of the work and there needs to be evidence that the registration fee has been paid.

The Duration of Copyright

Copyright in Nigeria lasts for the entire duration of the author’s lifetime plus 70 years from the date of their death. If the author is unknown, copyright lasts 70 years from when the work was first published. Once rights expire, the work goes into the public domain, and can be copied or used by other individuals.

Benefits of owning a copyright

  • A copyright grants an owner the right to prohibit third parties from, copying, altering, distributing, performing or displaying and lending copies of their work
  • A copyright grants an owner the moral right to be identified as author or director and to object to any derogatory treatment of work.
  • A copyright owner can sell/lease their copyright for monetary benefits.

Remedies for the Infringed Party

If someone has breached your copyright the following remedies may be granted:

  • Injunctions: This gives you the right to stop further productions of the infringing work being produced.
  • Conversion/delivery up: This entails giving the work of the infringer to the infringed party so it can be destroyed.
  • Damages: A monetary sum used to compensate for infringement of the work. The sum awarded is usually at the discretion of the court.


Copyright law in Nigeria is unfortunately largely ignored by authors, as a result, authors are unable to benefit from their copyright because they do not register or understand when the copyrights in their work have been infringe upon.

Berkeley Legal can help protect your interests by ensuring you are fully aware of your legal rights regarding your copyrights, advising and assisting in the registration of your copyright and in case of an infringement.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require specific legal advice on any of the matters covered in this article please contact