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Intellectual Property is a generic term that evolved and formed into use during the 20th Century. The modern convention use intellectual property to refer to both industrial and intellectual property which covers area like patents, designs, copyright and trademark.

Internationally, special legal protection for databases is a part of the work program of the intellectual property and organisation (WIPO)


Copyright can defined as the title, which an author has in the protection of his intellectual property. The development of copyright can be linked to the evolution of the reproduction technology with the development of the printing press in the second and fifteenth century.

Nigeria copyright law has it deep root in the imperial UK Copyright System. The Federal Military Government in 1970 promulgated the first copyright law known as the COPYRIGHT DECREE.

After the promulgation, there was lacuna (omission) in it. Thus, in 1988, the Federal Military Government made a new copyright law to cover certain areas where the Copyright Decree failed.

Overtime, Nigeria has been signatories to various international organisations for the protection of intellectual property. Nigeria is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) which has been established by the 1967 treaty and became a specialised agency of the United Nations in 1974.

Section 1(1) of the Copyright Act prescribes these as being works that are eligible for copyright:


– Literary works

– Musical works

– Artistic works

– Cinematography films

– Sound recording

– Broadcasts

There are four necessary criteria for the eligibility of literary, music or artistic work for copyright:

– It must be work for originality

– It must be affixed in a definite form

– It must be published

– It must not be intended by the author to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by any industrial process.

In accordance with the provision of the copyright act, copyright does not vest in perpetuity. The duration has been set out under the first schedule of the Act:

Literary, musical and artistic works other than photographs: Seventy years after the end of the year in which the author dies; in the case of government or a corporate body, seventy years after the end of the year in which the work was first published.

Cinematography films and photographs: Fifty years after the end of the year in which the work was first published

Sound recordings: Fifty years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made.

Broadcasts: Fifty years after the end of the year in which the broadcast first too place.


When there is copyright infringement, what can be done?

Infringement of copyright can be performed when a person without the license or authorisation of the copyright owner does or cause any other person to do any of the prohibited acts in relation to copyright work. Infringement can be direct or indirect. Direct infringement is the authority done by persons who are not copyright owners of rights constituted by the Act. Indirect is the unauthorised dealing with works in which are themselves, direct infringement. Section 14(10) of the act highlights act which may constitute civil infringement of copyright and Section 18 and 20 enumerates offences constituting criminal infringement of copyright. The Federal High Court is empowered under Section 38 of the Act to entertain suits from copyright infringement.

Remedies Available

Remedies can be granted to the owner of copyright work. Civil reliefs like damages, injunction and many more are available.

Section 22(1) makes Anton Pillar injunction available to the plaintiff. This gives the owner of the work the right to enter the defendant’s premises to inspect and remove any infringing material. There are other available remedies like Mareva injunction which is often referred to as freezing injunction because this ex-parte injunction freezes the assets of such party by preventing the party from taking them away from the jurisdiction.


Folklore is also protected under the Copyright Act. Expression of folklore are protected against the reproduction communication to the public by performance, broadcasting, distribution, by cable or other mens and adaptation, translation and other transformation made either for commercial purposes or outside their traditional or customary context.

Folkore is usually infringed when any person without the direct consent of the Nigeria Copyright Commission, uses an expression of folklore in a manner that is not permitted by the Act and such infringer shall be liable to the Commission in damages, injunction and any other remedies as the court may deem fit to award in the circumstances.


Greg Uloko, Modern Approach to Intellectual Property Laws in Nigeria (published 2010, Princeton publishing co)

By Ogunleye Oluwakorede

About Me: Ogunleye Oluwakorede writes mainly on entertainment, history and socio-economic matters. He has previously released works like album reviews and content information. He is also a music critic and analyst particularly on Nigerian music entertainment.

Contact Me on Instagram: omo_baba_ogunleye Snapchat: horluwakorex Twitter: horluwakorex_ Whatsapp: 08144651530


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    1. A trade secret is any practice or process of a company that is generally not known outside of the company. Information considered a trade secret gives the company an economic advantage over its competitors and is often a product of internal research and development. To be legally considered a trade secret, a company must take a reasonable effort in concealing the information from the public, the secret must intrinsically have economic value, and the trade secret must contain information. Trade secrets are a part of a company’s intellectual property. Unlike a patent, a trade secret is not publicly known.

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