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What Happens when there are no IP Laws(1)

What Happens When There are no IP Laws (1)

Maybe you don’t know?

When I was a kid, the kinds of movies I loved best were the 20-in-1 movies. For as low as #70, I could watch enough movies a day. When they were scratched or incomplete, I would curse the producer in pain and regret wasting my money for biscuit. It took many years for me to realize that kind of movies were pirated and that Tyler Perry, Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal movies should not all logically be in the same CDs.

Today, I belong to the Intellectual Property Club in School and I would never download a song without paying for it and almost never stream movies from illegal download sites. With literacy comes a stark reality and responsibility to never be a part of a system that kills innovation or destroy the hard work of others.

In order to understand what would happen without Intellectual Property Laws, you need to understand why these laws where created. From the word “Intellectual Property”, a plain definition could be “a work of the intellect”. Still from this word, you can decipher that it relates to what you can create in the mind. Indeed, this is true. Intellectual property laws were created to protect whatever you could innovate, discover, design or invent by your own self and with your own mind. But there is only one catch, this creation must not just be in your mind. You are expected to produce it in a fixated form and even a drawing on paper is fine.

If you are wondering why, let me explain. Three men can all create a shoe that makes you fly in their mind. They may all plan to use the same method of putting hot coal into iron shoes and applying gravity and space air etc etc. However, there is no way any of them can prove they thought it up first if they don’t have this idea properly drawn out and designed. The first to turn the thought to reality will get protected. It is therefore apparent that intellectual property laws where created by man to not only protect ownership of ideas but also give the creators an incentive to continue to create more and solve more problems.

Intellectual Property protection comes in various forms. Today’s article will consider only one and subsequent episodes of this article will attempt to rationalize the existence of other forms of IP protection. The first form is Copyright which protects artistic or literary creations like writings, drawings, music, songs etc. The word “Copyright” does not actually mean the right to copy in the literal sense as the plain interpretation of the word may seem but rather ‘the right to the copies’. That is, it protects the owner or author from the duplication of the work by someone unauthorized. It is notable that copyright does not protect ideas, theories or concepts but an original work in a tangible form.

Copyright protection is a necessity in order to prevent chaos and anarchy in our world today from my point of view. A very relatable illustration would be this article I am writing today. Imagine I woke up tomorrow morning and found another name attributed as the author of this article, I would definitely be angry. The effort, time and brain power imputed in this article would be someone else’s glory. Now let’s imagine further that Harvard saw this article and wants to give the writer a special recognition for it, the wrong person will get the credit and I may either decide never to write again or just go ahead and fight the person who stole my work. Then the society would lose one of two things – a great mind or the life of the thief.

However, thanks to Copyright laws in all countries of the world today, the moment you create your artistic or literary work in a fixed format, you are attributed ownership to it. You can sue anyone who uses it without your permission over the next 70 years and get compensated for such.

If today, you still use people’s lines without acknowledging they own it or duplicate people’s paintings as yours or use another persons’ lyrics without authorization, permission or fair use, I would just like to clearly state that you are a thief and that is stealing. You are also most likely guilty of copyright infringement and should stop taking credit for other people’s work. Forms of copyright infringement you should stop are using someone’s picture from the internet without crediting the photographer, downloading music and movie files from illegal websites, plagiarizing another’s work etc.

The easiest way to know if you are infringing is when you find legal sites to pay for a work alongside an illegal site where it is offered for free. Most likely, the book or movie or music you are trying to download was created to create profit by the owner. I recently learnt that people justify copyright infringement on the argument that the owner is most likely rich and thus would not be affected If he loses the one thousand naira for the work. My response is this, imagine a million people had this same opinion then the owner has lost a billion naira. What happens if this owner gets bankrupt – the people employed under the chain would lose their jobs. Congrats, you just made someone poor and caused unemployment.

In fact, the negative effect of copyright infringement in Nigeria as a country would now be proved in figures. In 2018, Punch Newspaper reported that Nigeria loses $3billion to piracy annually and the annual revenue from the movie industry is just about $590 million according to PWC Media and Entertainment Outlook. The facts speak for themselves.

In conclusion, if you have never heard of the word “IP”, this is an attempt to teach it in the simplest way and sensitize as many people as possible that IP Laws are a necessity and to stop belittling the effort of others starts from understanding the consequences of such action. We believe that after reading this article you would leave the league of persons that wait weeks for a movie to be leaked to download it on the internet rather than paying to see it at the movie. You really have no right to complain about the standards of Nollywood movies if you have never paid to see one. We need IP laws and we need you to stop breaking them.

Precious AKINKUOLIE

For Research Team, IPTLCUI

Picture Credit: Shutterstock

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