A BRIEF HISTORY OF COPYRIGHT LAW
2.2 HISTORY OF COPYRIGHT.
Copyright predates the Statute of Anne. Scholars trace it to the declaration of King Diarmund while passing judgment in respect of a dispute between one Mr Finnanin and Mr Columcille. In the case, Finnanin accused Mr Columcille for copying his bible without permission. The King Diarmund then noted: “to every cow her calf; and to every book its copy” .
However, a more precise account of the origin of Copyright protection is traceable to England where the Crown and the Church (in a bid to prevent the circulation of heretical and seditious materials) monitored the printing of books and censored the press.
Subsequently, as the printing machine technology was developed (especially with the introduction of the Gutenberg printing technology in 1439), it became easier to reproduce manuscripts at cheaper rates . Through lobbying, the Stationers Company was established in 1556 and granted monopoly over printing by Queen Mary of England in 1557. This monopoly remained until 1637 afterwhich it was retained partially.
The widespread piracy and duplication of works resulted in the promulgation of the Statute of Anne in 1709 . This Act gave authors/creators the exclusive right over their works for as long as 14 years with a renewal option for another 14 years. Other copyright legislations followed. Like the English Copyright Act of 1842 then the Copyright Act 1911. This 1911 Act was extended to Nigeria in 1912 .
2.2.1 In Nigeria.
Pre-colonial Nigeria had some feature of copyright protection in the sense that performers and storytellers were usually entertained and compensated with gifts and certain refreshment after each performance .
The English Copyright Act of 1911 was extended to Nigeria by Order No. 12, of June 1912. It generally granted protection for a period of 50 years after the author’s death.
This Act can be regarded as a mere introduction to serve the colonial master’s interests. For example, under the 1911 Act, only works first published in England or made by an author resident in the Crown’s territory could be accorded protection.
Then came the Copyright Act of 1970 which repealed the 1911 Act. Some of the drawbacks of the act were that it lacked adequate sanctions and remedial measures for copyright infringement and it failed to provide for an administrative agency to effectively oversee and enforce copyright in Nigeria. Okoroji noted: The civil provisions were cumbersome and had many loop holes… The criminal sanctions…were laughable . These (amongst others) led to the introduction of the 1988 Copyright Act in 19th December 1988.
The 1988 Act established the Nigerian Copyright Council (now Nigerian Copyright Commission) and provided adequate remedies and sanctions for copyright infringement. The 1988 Act has been amended severally.
In 1992: It was amended with Section 38 which provided for the appointment of Copyright Inspectors who had authority to search infringers’ premises and make arrests. In Section 39, provisions for the establishment of Collecting Societies were made. These collecting societies collect and enforce royalties on behalf of their members. These royalties are distributed in determined proportions. In Musical Copyright Society v. Adeokin Records and Anor , the court held that collecting societies represent the interest of their members. This does not mean that they are owners of the copyright in the work, they merely collect royalties on behalf of their members. Presently, the collecting societies (Musical Collecting Society of Nigeria (MCSN) and Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON )) in Nigeria are constantly at loggerheads.
The discussion shall be continued in chapter 3 of this work to avoid duplication.
2.2.2 In the International Arena:
In 1886, the Berne Convention became the first multinational treaty on copyright protection, followed by the Universal Copyright Convention in 1952.
There were various conventions enacted by the international community which appealed to member-states to adopt certain provisions for the protection of intellectual property
2.2.3 In the United States of America.
The first truly copyright provision was enacted in Article 1, Section 8 of the 1787 Constitution of the USA . In 1790, the Congress then passed the Copyright Act. This Act protected Authors of books, maps and charts for 14 years with an option to renew for another 14 years.
This term was extended to 28 years in 1831 with an option for renewal for another 14 years. In 1909, the US copyright was revised and the renewal term was for another 28 years.