Winner 2019 National Campus Essay Competition: Banigo, Charles Tekena

School: University of Ibadan

Question Addressed: Propose a solution to a compelling legal issue confronting the music or movie industry in Nigeria

With an estimated population of 190 million people spread over 250 ethnic groups of different cultural heritages and backgrounds, Nigeria is arguably one of the most diverse nations on the African continent. This rich cultural diversity is vividly displayed in the different languages we speak, foods we eat and clothes we wear. Amidst all these differences however, we are at the core, bound by one unshakable bond – our undeniable love for music.

To the average Nigerian, music is much more than just an organized arrangement of words and tunes. It is one of our most treasured mediums of expression that connects minds, hearts and souls; it is a tool for social justice to correct perceived social ills, and it is of course, our favorite mode of entertainment. Sadly today, our beloved music industry is plagued by an insidious malady which if left unchecked, may spell the beginning of its end in Nigeria. Its name? Online music piracy.

At this point, it is prudent we ask ourselves a few questions before forging ahead. What exactly is online music piracy and what are the conditions that give rise to it? First and foremost, we understand music piracy to be the copying, reproduction and distribution of recordings of a piece of music without the consent of those who have the copyright to it. Now as opposed to burning records on compact disks and selling them, online music piracy goes a step further and makes use of existing digital technology to upload songs to unauthorized and unlicensed sites where unscrupulous end users can download free of charge. These unscrupulous acts, rob artists and producers alike of the benefits of their intellectual property and further goes on to discourage upcoming artists from venturing into this once gigantic industry as there seem to be little or no observable incentives.

A number of factors are responsible for music piracy. The most common among these however are; ignorance of majority of the populace of the fact that music is actually property (intellectual property) and as such should be paid for before usage; lack of definite laws and penalties providing for online music piracy, and the ease with which music can be illegally downloaded today.

In providing a solution to this problem thus, the first step to be taken is the creation of awareness on the nature of music as intellectual property and the rights that accrue to those who have copyright to it. This is the first stage in combating piracy because no matter how many laws and measures are put in place to combat piracy, if consumers fail to understand their obligation to pay for music, such laws would be in vain.

The second step in fighting online music piracy is by amending our laws to include provisions that prohibit online music piracy. This is because Section 18 of the Copyright Act 2004[1] which provides for liability on copyright infringement is notably silent on digital piracy as it focuses on physical works instead.

Finally, in checkmating the activities of online music pirates, Copyright agencies in Nigeria would need to work hand in hand with web hosting and domain name management services to effectively monitor sites and blogs that upload songs for downloads without being expressly authorized to do so. Stiff penalties should be imposed on those found guilty of piracy and in place of illegal download sites like “notjustok.com”, streaming platforms like Spotify, Boomplay and Selar can be made more mainstream instead. The effectiveness of this measure can be seen in the case of Britain where with the introduction of streaming services like Spotify, TIDAL and Apple Music, there was a 62% reduction in piracy rates.[2]

Piracy in the Nigerian music industry is a cancer long allowed to fester and become malignant. While the above legal measures may not guarantee an immediate and total absence of piracy, they by all accounts, present the best step taken in the right direction in the long overdue battle to reclaim the Nigerian Music Industry from the crooked hands of unscrupulous pirates.


[1] Cap C28 LFN 2004

[2] Sanchez, D. Aug. 2, 2018. Streaming kills piracy, yet piracy boosts concert sales. Any questions? Digital Music News. Retrieved Feb. 28, 2018 from https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/08/02/yougov-streaming-music-kills-piracy/

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