19 Jun



The world thrives on ideas and works of creative individuals. Works resulting therefrom are protected under the broad head of Intellectual Property Law[1]. Intellectual Property has been defined by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as “creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce[2]. In essence, intellectual property law is the body of laws which protect the outcome of intellectual activity. As Belgore J in Oladipo Yemitan v. The Daily Times Nigeria Ltd[3] noted “…the right of a man to that which he had originally made… must be protected”. This protection should prohibit copying of another’s work[4].  Similarly, in Feist Publications Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co[5] , the United States Supreme Court noted that Copyright benefits the society, and the author’s reward merely secures this benefit.

The law of intellectual property generally protects Copyright, Trademarks[6], and Industrial Designs[7] and Patents.

Copyright strives to strike a balance between the right of creators to be incentivised against the interest of the public to access works. This is evident in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[8], (UDHR) which provides:

“Everyone has a right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”…“Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to  enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”[9].

Lord Mansfield C.J in Sayre v Moore[10] noted that:

We must take care to guard against two extremes equally prejudicial: the one, that men of ability may not be deprived of their just merits, and the rewards of their ingenuity and labour; the other, that the world may not be deprived of improvements, nor the progress of the arts be retarded.”[11].

The rationale underlying the protection of Copyright was stated by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Mazer v. Stein[12], thus: “the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance the public welfare”.

“Copyright” is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary[13] as; “a property right in an original work of authorship (such as literary, musical, artistic, photographic or film work) fixed in any tangible medium of expression, giving the holder the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform and display the work”.

Copyright generates a large proportion of any country’s income[14] and cannot be ignored.

My discussion shall be predicated on the Nigerian Copyright Act 1988[15] which regulates the Copyright regime in Nigeria.

[1] Copyright is a Branch of Intellectual Property Law.

[2] http://www.wipo.int/aboutip/en/. Accessed August 16th 2016.

[3] [1980] F.H.C.R. 186 at 190

[4] Cornish, Llewellyn and Aplin, “ Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trademarks and Allied Rights, 7th Ed., Sweet & Maxwell

[5] 499 U.S. 340, 349–50 (1991).

[6] Trademarks identify the source of a particular good. The link between the proprietor and the market.

[7] This protects shape, designs and other aesthetic features of a product.

[8]   Proclaimed and Adopted by General Assembly resolution 217A (111) 10 December 1948.

[9] A similar provision can be found in Section 16 of the ICESC.

[10] (1785), 1 East. 361n, 102 E.R.

[11] Ibid at page 139.

[12] 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954).

[13]  Garner, B.A., et al, Blacks Law Dictionary, 8th ed. (Minnesota: Thomson West publishing Co., 2004). P361.

[14] S.E Stwek, Report on “The Economic Contribution of Copyright-Based Industries in the US”. (2004).

[15] An act to make provisions for the definition, protection, transfer, infringement of and remedy and penalty thereof of the copyright in literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, broadcast, and other ancillary matters.



Quite eccentric really

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