On the 17th day of March, 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Copyright Bill, 2022. The Copyright Act 2022 repealed the Copyright Act, Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The Act aims to facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with international copyright treaties, to effectively protect the rights of authors, to ensure fair compensation and recognition for their intellectual work, to establish appropriate limitations and exceptions to ensure access to creative works, and to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Copyright Commission to administer, enforce, and ensure compliance of persons and entities with the Act’s provisions.
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The Act attempts to strike a balance between the public interest in innovative works and their right to access information and/or intellectual creations on one hand, and the right of creators to be fairly and sufficiently rewarded on the other hand. Also, the Act addresses the significant difficulties that owners of copyrights experience in the digital sphere and gives owners of those rights, among others, the right to take action against online infringements of their works.
Key Innovative Provisions Of The Copyright Act 2022
- The Act provides for works that are eligible for copyright which includes literary works, musical works, audiovisual works, sound recordings, and broadcasts. Cinematography contained in the old act was excluded from this list and replaced by audiovisual works.
- The act provides for the protection of digital content. This means that online content including pictures, videos, sound recordings, and productions of online content creators are protected from copyright infringements. Thus, digital content can’t be used without obtaining consent from the owner or creators of such works.
- The act contains provisions empowering copyright owners to issue notices of infringement for take-downs or deactivation of links to infringing content. The act grants site-blocking powers to the Nigerian Copyright Commission over online content that infringes copyright.
- Under the new act, moral rights can be transferred after the author’s death either through testamentary disposition or operation of law. Moral rights shall expire when the copyright in a work expires.
- The act facilitates Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind or Visually-Impaired. This represents a significant advancement in the creation of an inclusive society where everyone can enjoy the advantages of learning.
- The Act provides for factors for the reliance on the defense of fair dealing. These factors include the purpose of usage, amount and sustainability of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole, and the effect of the use upon potential market or value of the work.
- The act vests the ownership in a collective work upon the person on whose directive the work was made. The act retains the right of authors contributing to a collective work to exploit their individual contributions independently of the right in the collective work.
- Traditional cultural expressions in the form of folklore are given special recognition under the Act and are protected against the appropriation for commercial purposes outside their traditional context. Any party who wishes to make commercial use of expressions of folklore would first need to obtain permission from the relevant indigenous community concerned, and/or the Nigerian Copyright Commission. Failure to do so could result in criminal sanctions being levied against the user.
Creators, innovators, and brand owners especially those operating in the digital sphere will undoubtedly benefit significantly from the changes made by the Act. The Act serves as a bold step toward addressing the looming threats posed by technological advancement.
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