A copyright is an exclusive right given to the originator of creative work to reproduce the work for a limited period. Copyright protects the work of authors, artists, songwriters, music publishers and composers, photographers and other creatives. The primary copyright law in Nigeria is the Copyright Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 (the Act).

The copyright is governed by the Copyright Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 (the Act). The governing body or government agency in charge of copyright is the Nigerian Copyright Commission(NCC). The Commission is responsible for the following:

  • all matters affecting copyright in Nigeria as provided for in this Act
  • monitoring and supervising Nigeria’s position in relation to international convention and advise Government thereon
  • advising and regulating conditions for the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements between Nigeria and any other country;
  • enlightening and informing the public on matters relating to copyright;
  • maintaining an effective data bank on authors and their works;

Under the Act, Section 1 provides that the works that are eligible for copyright protection are as follows:

  1. Literary works
  2. Musical works
  3. Artistic works
  4. Cinematograph works
  5. Sound recording

Section 11 provides that the owner of a copyright has the following rights:

  1. To claim authorship of his work
  2. To object and seek relief in connection with any distortion, mutilation or any other modification of his work.

It should be noted that the law also recognizes an “author” to include a person’s heir and successors in title. Where work with subsisting copyright is published, printed, produced or manufactured, there should be kept a register showing the name of the author, the title, the year of production and the quantity of work produced.

A copyright is infringed by any person who without the license or authorization of the owner of the copyright uses or causes the copyrighted work to be used. A copyright holder whose right has been infringed is entitled to damages or injunctions.

The copyright law in Nigeria provides for has several categories and the duration of rights. The First Schedule of the Copyright Act provides that:

  • In the case of literary, musical or artistic works (photographs are not included), copyright will be given for a period of 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies. Where the work is created by a body corporate then the copyright will last for 70 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.
  • In the case of cinematography, films, and photographs, the copyright will last for a period of 50 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published
  • In the case of sound recordings, the copyright is given for a period of 50 years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made.
  • Where it is a broadcast, the copyright will last 50 years after the end of the year in which the broadcast first took place.



Although, the maker is automatically deemed to be the owner of a copyright, with or without registration. However, registration provides protection in respect of a copyright works and it is a prima facie evidence of title, where there are conflicting rights in respect of any copyright. By and large, the advantages of copyright registration include the followings:

  • Independent source of verifying data relating to a work or its author to the general public
  • The acknowledgement certificate issued to the author who notifies the Commission of his work provide prima facie evidence of the facts shown on it;
  • The Commission provides a depository for preserving original copies of works notified;
  • The information and data contained offers reliable rights management information to members of the public and prospective licensees to the work.

In conclusion, the Nigerian Copyrights Commission is the government agency in charge of copyrights. The copyrights registrations are crucial for the protection of copyrights. And unlike patent and trademark, the registration of copyrights in Nigeria affords the owner protection across the globe in accordance with the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.


By Intellectual Property Law Team at Resolution Law Firm