How well do you know about the administration of copyright in Nigeria? Under which law does the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) operate? What are its statutory functions, and how does it affect you as either a copyright owner or user? This is what we will be mainly looking at this week.
Although a clear departure from the norm in the administration of copyright in Nigeria, the extant 1988 Copyright Act (as amended)[1]is a substantial reproduction of the repealed legislation on copyright.[2]The enactment of this new Act was to strengthen and improve the existing regime of copyright law in Nigeria.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.[3] 
Most significantly, however, the 1988 Act (as amended) provides for the establishment of an administrative body, the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC),[4]for the purpose of ensuring the effective and efficient administration, regulation and enforcement of copyright under the Act.[5]This marked a watershed in the regulation of copyright in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Administration of Copyright
Of vital importance to the protection of copyright in any jurisdiction is an effective legal framework for its efficient administration. Inherently, given its private nature and public interest factor, the copyright system could be described as a complex one. According to Adewopo, the administrative system can be viewed from two broad perspectives viz – the intstitutional framework and the private machinery for the collective administration of rights.[6]Such institutional framework for administration is in the form of a statute-empowering regulatory body, while the private machinery is a collection of individuals instituting actions for infringement of their copyright.[7]
As necessary machinery for the administration, regulation and enforcement of copyright in Nigeria, section 34 of the 1988 Copyright Act created the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).[8]A federal agency, the Commission came into existence on 19th August, 1989 as the Nigerian Copyright Council. On 19th April, 1996, it metamorphosed into the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), with permanent administrative and operational status of a Commission.[9]
Presently, the Commission remains a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. It may sue and be sued in its corporate name.[10]Section 34(3) of the Act provides for the statutory functions of the Commission. For the purpose of clarity, this subsection is reproduced here:
(3) The Commission shall –
(a)    be responsible for all matters affecting copyright in Nigeria as provided for in the Act;
(b)    monitor and supervise Nigeria’s position in relation to international conventions and advise the government thereon;
(c)    advise and regulate conditions for the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral  agreement between Nigeria and any other country;
(d)    enlighten and inform the public on matters relating to copyright;
(e)    maintain an effective data bank on authors and their works; 
(f)      be responsible for such other matters as relating to copyright in Nigeria as the  Minister may, from time to time, direct.
From the statutory provision above, it is clear that the functions of the Commission, and by implication its powers, are considerably wide. This gives the Commission a comprehensive legal framework with which it can effective and efficiently carry out its mandate. Nationally, it has been empowered to police all matters on copyright and matters relating thereto in the country. Apart from maintaining a database of all published titles and their authors, the Commission carries out public awareness campaigns, an area which is yet to be massively executed largely owing to the lack of adequate funds from the government.[11]
The Commission, internationally, monitors and supervises both our bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries and organisations on copyright, including advising the government thereon. In relation, the conditions on which such international agreements with these parties are to be regulated by the Commission. By implication, it could be said that the Commission is in charge of formulating Nigeria’s policy on copyright. And such international agreements contemplated by the Act include but not limited to treaties and Conventions such as:
(i)        the Berne Convention of 1886 for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works;
(ii)       the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952 for the Protection of the Right of Authors and Copyright Owners;
(iii)      the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Photograms and Broadcasting Organisations of 1961
(iv)     the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty; and
(v)       the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which reinforces the Berne Convention.

See you next week!    

[1] 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
[2] The Nigeria Copyright Act of 1970
[3] 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.
[4] Hereafter referred to as “the Commission.”
[5] S. 34
[6] Adewopo A; “Legal Framework for Copyright Protection In Nigeria”, (1995) Lagos State University (LASU)  Law Journal, 82
[7]The extant Copyright Act in fact recognises dual actions i.e simultaneous institution of both civil and criminal proceedings against any alleged infringer in respect of the same infringement. See s. 24 of the Act.
[8] S. 34(1) of the Act
[9] As a Commission, the NCC was no longer a mere group of government officials providing copyright services to the public, but given the statutory powers of control and regulation of copyright matters in Nigeria. By virtue of S. 2 of the Copyright (Amendment) Decree No. 42 1999, the word “Council” was substituted for the word “Commission.” 
[10] S. 34(2) of the Act.
[11] Nwauche E. S., “Intellectual Property Rights, Copyright and Development Policy in a Developing Country:  Options For Sub Saharan African Countries”an unpublished paper presented at the Copyright Workshop held at Zimbabwe International Book Fair on the July 30, 2003 by the Director General, Nigerian Copyright  Commission.

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Nigerian Law Today

NLT’s mission is to take legal-content writing to the next level in Nigeria by leveraging legal expertise and technology. We publish fresh, original, and insightful articles on areas of law we cover.

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