Some Basic Facts About Copyright in Nigeria


1. What is Copyright?

For authors, artists, songwriters, music publishers and composers, photographers and other creators, copyright provides the assurance that they can share their work with the public without the fear of unauthorized use. It covers book publishing, photography, sound recording, broadcasting, film production etc and gives creators the right to control the ways their materials are used by others i.e. copying, adapting, distributing, performing in public, rental or lending and other communications to the public.

In Nigeria, copyright is protected by the Copyright Act as contained in Chapter C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and it is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). The Nigerian Copyright Act provides protection for literary, musical and artistic works, cinematography, sound recordings and broadcasting.

2. How Long Does Copyright Protection Endure in Nigeria?

Copyright in literary, musical or artistic works other than photographs lasts until 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies; in the case of a government or a body corporate, seventy years after the end of the year in which the work was first published. Copyright in films and photographs lasts 50 years after the end of the year in which the work was first published. Copyright in sound recording lasts 50 years after the recording was first published.

3. Do I Need to Register my Work with the Nigerian Copyright Commission?

Nigerian law does not require registration of copyright. As soon as an original work is reduced to a fixed and tangible form, the work is automatically copyrightable in Nigeria. The NCC however provides copyright owners the option to register their work and deposit a copy with the NCC which serves as public notification of the existence of the work.

Copyright does not protect domain names. The Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), an independent non-profit manages the assignation of domain names in Nigeria.

4. Do I Always Need Permission to Copy or Use Copyright Material?

No. Generally you do not always need permission to copy or use copyright material. For example, Nigerian law allows for a limited use of copyright material without acquiring the permission from the copyright holder where the use is for non-commercial or educational/research purposes, for review or criticism, reporting current events etc.

However, if you need to make many copies or a large amount of any copyright material, then you must seek permission from the copyright holder and cite the name of the copyright work/acknowledge the owner of the copyright. It is important to point out that copyright exist independently of the material on which it is recorded. Therefore, recording music on a CD you own does not confer copyright ownership on you.

For more information on registering copyright in Nigeria, please email This article was originally published on June 27, 2013 and 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 313 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: