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Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Eze Igwe

Federal High Court

Judgement delivered on Monday, January 30, 2013
Citation: 56 NIPJD [FHC. 2013] ABJ/CR/93/2012
Case No. FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2012  Jurisdiction: Nigeria

Judgement delivered by Justice E. S. Chukwu

Appearances: O. Adesanya for the Prosecution
A.T. Konol, with M.A. Oke, T.I. Ogbonna for the Accused

Copyright Infringement, Possession and Sale of Pirated Optical Discs — The Federal High Court had to decide on the two-count charge of possession and making for sale or for trade 250 copies of infringing optical discs works in DVDs, VCDs, and CDs.

I. FACTS

The accused, Eze Igwe, was charged on count one for breach of Section 20(2)(c) of the Nigerian Copyright Act, CAP C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, for being in possession of 250 copies of copyright infringing optical discs works in DVDs, VCDs and CDs.  The accused was also charged with breach of Section 20(2)(a) of the Copyright Act i.e. offering for sale 250 copies of copyright infringing optical discs works in DVDs, VCDs and CDs.  The infringing works included foreign films with the titles: Tears of the Sun (2003), Lord of the Rings (2001), The Losers (2010) and Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007).

On January 30, 2013, Honourable Justice Elvis S. Chukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja convicted the accused of the two-count charge of optical disc piracy and sentenced him to six months imprisonment with an option of N5,000 fine.

II. JUDGEMENT

Accused is present in court.

A.T. Konol (Esq) appears with M.A. Oke (Esq), T.I. Ogbonna (Mrs.)

O. Adesanya (Esq) appears for the prosecution.

This matter is for plea of the Accused Person.

PLEA

The Accused states that he hears English “small small” meaning he understands a little English.

COUNT 1

Count 1 is read to Accused Person who appeared to understand same and pleaded guilty to Count 1.

The Notice of Preliminary Objection failed, was dismissed and the Court proceeded to consider the Substantive.

COUNT 2

Count 2 is read to Accused Person who appeared to understand same and pleaded not guilty to Count 2.

Learned Prosecuting Counsel applies that in view of the plea of the Accused in Count 1, that they apply to drop Count 2 to enable them lead evidence in Count 1, which the Accused had pleaded guilty.

Application is granted as prayed. Count 2 is accordingly struck out of the Charge Sheet.

Learned Counsel for the Prosecution states that sometime during a random raid by inspectors of the Complainant, the Accused Person was arrested for being in possession of 250 copies of copyright works, he had them in his possession other than for private purpose or private or domestic use. The details are specified in the charge. Upon arrest the Accused Person was taken to the Office of the Complainant where he made a confessional statement under caution.

The infringing works were also counted in his presence and an inventory was generated, which the Accused Person also signed and the Investigating Officer also signed.

Counsel applies to tender the inventory of the pirated works.

The Statement of the Accused Person is tendered in evidence as Exhibit A.

The inventory generated after the infringing works were counted.

The inventory on infringing words dated May 20, 2011 is tendered in evidence and marked as Exhibit B.

The 250 copies of the infringing works is tendered in evidence and it is marked as Exhibit C1 to C249.

Counsel urges the Court to Convict him as charged.

Court:Accused is convicted as charged.

ALLOCUTUS

Accused pleads for mercy and states he has stopped the selling of pirated works and now concentrates on his DT works.

Learned Counsel states that the Accused has no known criminal record.

No machine for duplication was found on him.

Court: The Accused has not wasted the time of the Court and has shown serious remorse for his action and has vowed never to trade on pirated works.

The Accused is accordingly sentenced to 6 months imprisonment or pay a fine of N5,000 only.

Signed

Judge

January 30, 2013

The Exhibit is to be delivered up to the Complainant for destruction forthwith.

Signed

Judge

January 30, 2013.

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