In the pages of the historical development of intellectual property, we witnessed the need for the development of copyright. This was mainly because of the massive production of works from the printing technology in the fifteenth century, and its gradual advancement during the Industrial Revolutionof the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is therefore not surprising to see history repeating itself in the further advancement of copyright today owing to the development of another kind of technology in the information age of the 21st century.The information technology age has had and continues to have great effects on the world of intellectual property, both positively and negatively.
This development has occasioned a vigorous global interaction in all spheres of human endeavour. Both at national and international levels, the need for a more effective regulation of copyright has arisen, and Nigeria is no exception. The problem of piracy in Nigeria has literally become endemic as it has destroyed the whole body system of advancement of knowledge, proper access to information, research development, human capital development and the development of industry, particularly the entertainment, art and literary industry, including the educational sector. In today’s information age, the world is fast transforming into a global village. If they had been sleeping, copyright owners must sleep no more on their rights.
In one of my posts, a critical examination of the regulation and enforcement of copyright by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) was attempted. The various civil remedies available to a copyright owner through the courts will make the thrust of our discourse in the next few weeks.
The Extant Nigerian Copyright Act
Although a clear departure from the norm in the administration of copyright in Nigeria, the extant 1988 Copyright Act (as amended)is a substantial reproduction of the repealed legislation on copyright.The enactment of this new Act was to strengthen and improve the existing regime of copyright law in Nigeria. Emphatically, the scope of works eligible for copyright protection was broadened, enforcement mechanisms were instituted, and more stringent punishments for infringement of copyright were entrenched in the new legislation to curb the destructive menace of piracy in the country.
Most significantly, however, the 1988 Act (as amended) provides for the establishment of an administrative body, the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC),for the purpose of ensuring the effective and efficient administration, regulation and enforcement of copyright under the Act.This marked a watershed in the regulation of copyright in Nigeria.
The Copyright owners, Licensees and Assignees and Enforcement of Copyright through the Courts
Intellectual property rights are essentially private rights. Enforcement activities can never be effective without the active involvement of the intellectual property rights owners who must individually and/or with their associations fight infringement. Therefore, as a private right, individuals can also enforce their rights through the courts. This is also known as the judicial enforcement of copyright. Therefore, to critically examine the role of the judiciary in this arena, this study will attempt an appraisal of the issue of court exercising jurisdiction over copyright, and the civil remedies available to aggrieved owners of copyright such as injunction, damages, account of profits, delivery up and conversion right under the Act. Criminal liabilities in respect of infringement of copyright under the Act will also be examined.
Jurisdiction of the Court
Copyright is an incorporeal right that may only be realised through legal action.The right to action is subject to locus standi, which requires that the person must have sufficient interest in the work to justify his action.
Infringement of copyright shall only be actionable at the suit of the owner, assignee or an exclusive licensee of the copyright. Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution also entitles the individual as a fundamental right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Therefore, to enforce his copyright, the owner, assignee or exclusive licensee of copyright can maintain an action for copyright infringement.
The Copyright Act gives exclusive jurisdiction to the Federal High Court for the trial of offences or disputes under the Act.This is consistent with the constitutional provision of section 251(1)(f):
Notwithstanding anything to be contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdictions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil courses and matters –
(f) any Federal enactment relating to copyright, patent, designs, trade mark and passing-off, industrial designs and merchandise marks, business names, commercial and industrial monopolies, combines and trusts, standards of goods and commodities and industrial standards
Conditioned by the exclusive jurisdiction conferred on the Federal High Court on copyright and copyright-related matters, the manner the court discharges its duties and applies the remedies or sanctions provided by the law is crucial in assessing the effectiveness of the judiciary in copyright enforcement in Nigeria. In the same reasoning, Hon. Justice Ajakaiye emphasised the role of the court in the enforcement of copyright in the following words:
The infringement of copyright of others acquired through diligence and hard work has become extremely rampant in this country. There is a need for stringent measures to curb the malaise. The courts should not slur their responsibilities to ensure this is done decisively. There is a need to impose condign punishment which will serve as deterrent to other law breakers.
Questionably, the action for copyright infringement must be instituted in the Federal High Court exercising jurisdiction in the place where the infringement occurred.This statutory provision is inconsistent with section 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution:
Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that state for redress.
If section 46 of the Copyright Act has given exclusive jurisdiction over copyright issues to the Federal High Court, why has it provided this contrary qualification under section 16 of same? The Federal High Court has a single jurisdiction. Its various divisions across the Federation are only established for administrative convenience, and not separate from one another. The statutory authority for this position is stated in section 19(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Act, and for the purpose of distinct clarity, it is reproduced thus:
19. Division of the Court
(1) The Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction throughout the Federation, and for that purpose the whole area of the Federation will be divided by the Chief Judge into such number of Judicial Divisions or part thereof by such name that he may think fit.
(2) For the more convenient dispatch of business the Court may sit in any one or more Judicial Divisions as the Chief Judge may direct, and he may also direct one or more Judges to sit in any one or more of the Judicial Divisions.
With the unambiguous and unequivocal provision above, there is barely any need for further illumination of this section. However, perhaps a judicial decision on this matter will be the defining light in this encroaching darkness which section 16(1) of the Copyright Act has brought on the clear-as-daylight position of the law on the issue of jurisdiction in this respect. In the case of M. K. O. Abiola v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN),where the appellant was arrested in Lagos for declaring himself the elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and arraigned before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court. Subsequently, he was arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja. When the issue of jurisdiction was raised by the appellant, the Supreme Court held that the Federal High Court has a single jurisdiction as it is only divided into judicial divisions for administrative convenience. Therefore, even where the appellant’s alleged offence had occurred in Lagos, the Federal High Court, Abuja Division still had jurisdiction over the matter.
Therefore, while section 16(1) of the Copyrightmay have been driven by good intentions, it is rather harmful and counterproductive. It puts the owner of copyright, assignee or exclusive licensee in a precarious position which may likely be injurious to his action. There is perhaps no better way to illustrate this potential danger than to reason along the following lines:
If for example an author based in Lagos suddenly realizes that a Port Harcourt-based entrepreneur is pirating his popular title, the author is supposed to commence the action at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. It is doubtless that such action would put the author and owner of copyright in the popular title at a serious inconvenience; having to shuttle between Lagos and Port Harcourt in the prosecution of the case.
Next week, we will continue this discourse by closely examining the civil actions and remedies for the judicial enforcement of copyright in Nigeria. Keep a date with me as it promises to be very interesting.
 The Industrial Revolution is the period in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and US when machines began to be used to do work, and industry grew rapidly. See Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
 Phillip J. and Firth A., Introduction to Intellectual Property Law, (3rd ed), London, Butterworths, 1995, 3 cited in Yusuf A. O. “Computer Technology and Copyright Eligibility under the Nigerian Copyright Law” 2005) 3, Igbinedion University Law Journal, 41
 In the newspaper publication, “Briefs: NCC joins Interpol, to check piracy”, Daily Sun, January 30, 2007, 24, it was reported that a Nigerian had been arrested in South Africa in connection with the importation into that country pirated DVDs estimated at over $29 million (over 3.4 billion naira); also in “Briefs: Pirates nabbed in Port Harcourt”, Daily Sun, January 30, 2007, 24, the NCC using its Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP) initiative, was reported to have arrested pirates in Port Harcourt, River State.
 Copyright Act (Cap. C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004; containing the 1988 Act as amended by the Copyright (Amendment) Decree No. 98 of 1992 and the Copyright (Amendment) Decree of 1999
 The Nigeria Copyright Act of 1970
 Although presently, these punishments have been proven to be inadequate. Consequently, heavier criminal sanctions continues to be widely advocated for by many stakeholders in the industry.
 Hereafter referred to as “the Commission.”
 S. 34
 Asein J. O., Nigerian Copyright Law and Practice, Lagos, Nigeria Copyright Commission(NCC), 2004, 143
 On justification, see Chapter Two of this study where the economic, moral, fundamental right principles and others were discussed to some detail.
 S. 46. In Achebe v. Drum Publications Nigeria Ltd.(1974) ALR Comm 227, an action for copyright infringement was brought before the High Court of the defunct East Central States. The court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to determine any action which bordered on copyright since it was exclusive to the Federal High Court.
 Nigeria Copyright Commission v. Ubi Bassey Eno & Ors (Suit No. FHC/CA/31C/2003) 17
 S. 16(1) of the Copyright Act
 Federal High Court Act Cap. F12 LFN 2004
 (1995) 1 NWLR (pt 370) 155
 Odion J. O. and Ogba N. E. O., Essays on Intellectual Property Law: Copyright, Trade Marks, Patents, Industrial Designs, Benin, Ambik Press, 2010, 60.