Copyright in Movie and Song Titles in Nigeria

Image Credit: © Solarseven |

August 14, 2013 — A couple of years ago, I fell in love with the song “Home” by Daughtry…♫ ♫ I’m going home to the place where I belong ♫ ♫…Still love that song!  Anyway, fast forward a couple of years later and it was “Home” by Michael Bublé…♫ ♫ Another aeroplane another sunny place I’m lucky, I know but I wanna go home ♫ ♫..this song just melts my heart.

In 2010, Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros made me fall in love with another song called “Home” ♪ ♫ ♫ Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa, not the way I do love you ♫  ♫. Then came “Home” by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips ♪ Hold on, to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road ♫ ♫.  So if you search through my iPod, there are 4 songs titled “Home”. Did some research and found out that between 1969 and 2012, there have actually been 34 songs from around the world titled “Home”. Amazing yes?

So how is this possible in a world where there are copyright laws you might ask? Well, in many countries, including the U.S. and Nigeria, copyright laws do not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases.

Copyright in Nigeria protects original works, be it literary, musical or artistic works. Names, movie and song titles, and other short phrases are not subject to copyright protection but may find protection in other forms of intellectual property.

This means that while the actual movie is protected by copyright laws, titles are not protected by copyright laws. Those of us who are familiar with Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, can attest to many movie titles that remind us of some of our favorite American movies!

U.S. Movie Industry             Nigeria’s Movie Industry

A Time to Kill, 1996                                   A Time to Kill, 1998

Braveheart, 1995                                       Brave Heart, 2005

Executive Decision, 1996                        Executive Decision, 2004

Most Wanted, 1997                                   Most Wanted, 1998

Pretty Woman, 1992                                 Pretty Woman, 2004

Sleeping with the Enemy, 1991             Sleeping with the Enemy, 2004

Unfaithful, 2002                                         Unfaithful, 2012

Unforgiven, 1992                                       Unforgiven, 2012

Violated, 1953, 1984                                 Violated, 1996

This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.


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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 259 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: