What do Intellectual Property Laws say about my creative content on social media?

What do Intellectual Property Laws say about my creative content on social media?

There must be some limit to the intellectual property violations perpetuated by our very own Alaba boys, right? Apparently not, as Alaba boys strike again! And this time, their victims are said to be Comedy Skit Creators. There have been reports that a couple of people are collating Comedy Skits from Social Media Platforms and selling them as CDs. Just create a mental picture of a 20-in-1 Sinzu vs. Spending skit. Clearly, no one is safe from these ridiculous infractions. But what can you do to protect yourself as a creative? Well, there is one thing: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. And we are glad to help to help you with that.

Probably the most important subject you need to about this type of creative content on social media is ‘copyright’. So what is a copyright?

A copyright is a legal right granted by a copyright law (The Copyright Act, in Nigeria) that vests in the creator of an original work exclusive right to its use and distribution for a limited time. According to Section 1(1) of the Copyright Act, works eligible for copyright in Nigeria include: Literary works, Musical works, Artistic works, Cinematographic films, Sound recordings and Broadcasts. Note that even these works would only be protected under copyright in Nigeria if: sufficient effort is expended on the work to give it an original character and the work is fixed in a definite medium of expression. In short, copyright would not protect an idea you did not express, neither would it protect a work that is majorly outsourced from somewhere without substantial original contribution.

Furthermore, you don’t have undergo any sort of registration to gain copyright protection as long as it exists in a fixed form (a written manuscript, a picture, a video tape or any known digital or traditional medium of expression). However, it is advisable that you make use of a copyright notice (©) on your works and also deposit a copy of your work with the Nigerian copyright commission.

In addition, the rights copyright confers on authors vary in Nigeria depending on the type of work, howbeit, some rights overlap. In the case of cinematograph films, the category to which comedy skits belong, the author has the exclusive right to (or authorise someone to) make a copy of the film, cause the film to be seen in public, commercially distribute copies of the film to the public and use any part of the film’s soundtrack in another recording. These are referred to as economic rights. There are also moral rights which includes the right of the creator to be named alongside their work anywhere it is used.

Looking at these rights, it is clear that Alaba-boys geng are doing the most in terms of copyright infringement; let us not also forget our online Alaba boys, the youtube-funnyvideos-compilation-geng. As an author, if you are in a bad mood, you can decide to vent the bad energy by going after your copyright infringers. You could initiate a suit against them at a Federal High Court, where if your claim is found valid, you would be entitled to relief in forms of damages, injunction, and accounts.

Finally, you probably should not concern yourself with the expiration of your copyright protection; it is not going to happen during your lifetime. Actually, it will happen 70 years after you are dead in the case of literary, artistic and musical works and 50 years for cinematograph films, photographs, sound recordings and broadcasts. So, just know that the random Iya Tao video on Instagram or Youtube is already protected by copyright. While individuals are free to share across platforms, any form of action on those skits that creates economic benefit for anyone asides the creator or someone granted express authority (license) by the creator is copyright infringement.

You want to know if Intellectual Property protects your messages on WhatsApp? We know you do. See you in the next post.

Author: Fabarebo Victor




Heard about the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market?
No? Alright, let’s take a stroll.
You see, one of the biggest news in copyright so far in 2019 is the “European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market”. This law has gained serious traction, especially due to some controversial changes it proposes. The parts that have generated the most buzz are Article 11, which has been dubbed “the link tax” and Article 13, which is also known as “the meme ban”.

Essentially, Article 11 is essentially placing a restriction on how news aggregator sites such as Google News, Yahoo and Bing can publish articles on their websites. It requires such websites to pay publishers for using snippets of their articles on their platforms. In response, Google released a screenshot of what search results will look like when the laws come into place. The picture depicts a ghostly webpage with only links displayed. This is the option tendered by Google in order to avoid paying all the companies and individuals who own contents uploaded on their website for their intellectual properties. This law however, contains an exception for “legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users”.

Article 13 requires online platforms such as Facebook, Google and YouTube to filter or remove copyrighted materials from their websites. It seems to be the most controversial, generating negative responses and severe oppositions from individuals, States and companies especially American companies YouTube and Google who have spoken out vehemently on how the new laws will affect the users of their websites. YouTube stated that they will have to remove some content that have already been up for years and block new ones that do not pass their content ID. The content ID is a mechanism already in place to prevent YouTubers from infringing on the rights of owners who had already copyrighted their properties. However, with the new laws in place, contents such as music video reactions, reviews, criticisms and video games may be affected as the algorithms are prone to mistakes. It may not recognize what has been copyrighted as a product of effort spent on existing content from the original content, which will make the use of the website cumbersome and is likely to affect the use of the website.

Finally, the problem with this law is that it will not just affect Europeans but the entire world due to the interconnectivity of the global world. Contents uploaded in European countries where the directive has been ratified into law will be subjected to the dictates of the provisions of the directive which will in turn affect consumers who can be from any parts of the world. Presently, there is no clear cut way to apply this law and we all might have to see how a court case or two flesh up the application of the laws.

Yusuf Aishat

Research Team