Nigeria: President Buhari Signs Documents Ratifying Treaties on Intellectual Property

President Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari (left) signs a document at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recently signed three international agreements between Nigeria and other entities aimed improving intellectual property in Nigeria.

The signing ceremony for the execution of the Instruments of Ratification was held at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, August 24 in Abuja.

The President ratified the following Treaties:

  • The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.
  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
  • Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances.

The President tweeted:

President Buhari described the agreement as a milestone in the government’s demonstration of sovereign capacity to fulfill its obligations and take important steps for the benefit of the Nigerian economy.

“I am happy to note, therefore, that pursuant to a Memorandum presented to the Federal Executive Council by the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Council has approved the ratification of the said Agreements,” he said.

Key Points about the Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled seeks to help to end the book famine faced by people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

The Treaty  is one of the international copyright treaties administered by WIPO. WIPO states that the Treaty has a clear humanitarian and social development dimension and its main goal is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons.

The type of works covered under the treaty are “literary and artistic works … in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations, whether published or otherwise made publicly available in any media;” This means that books, music sheets, periodicals, journals and other similar textual works are granted an exception to copyright rules in order to permit reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in formats designed to be accessible to blind or visually impaired persons, and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.

It is important to note that the exception allowed by the treaty doesn’t cover films.

The Treaty does not allow for the contents of a Work to be changed rather just for works to be transcribed into accessible formats.

The Treaty clarifies that beneficiary persons are those affected by a range of disabilities that interfere with the effective reading of printed material. The broad definition includes persons who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled or persons with a physical disability that prevents them from holding and manipulating a book.

Not just any individual can transcribe the books rather many non-profit, government entities, or for-profit entities that provide services to beneficiary persons using public funds and on a not-for-profit basis, come under the broad definition. They are either specifically authorized or “recognized” by the government as entities that provide many functions including education and information access to beneficiary persons.

The Treaty establishes an Assembly of the Contracting Parties whose main task is to address matters concerning the maintenance and development of the Treaty. It also entrusts to the Secretariat of WIPO the administrative tasks concerning the Treaty.

The Treaty text was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh.

About the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty makes provision for the rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in the digital environment: (i) performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.); and (ii) producers of phonograms (persons or legal entities that take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of sounds).

This treaty cover the right of reproduction, distribution, rental rights and the right to make a work available to the public. It was adopted in Geneva on December 20, 1996.

About the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances

The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances, which took place in Beijing from June 20 to 26, 2012. The Treaty cover the intellectual property rights of performers in audiovisual performances.

It grants performers four kinds of economic rights for their performances fixed in audiovisual fixations, such as motion pictures: (i) the right of reproduction; (ii) the right of distribution; (iii) the right of rental; and (iv) the right of making available.

The ratification of all the treaties is really great news for people with visual impairments and for the intellectual property system in Nigeria.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 311 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: