Introduction: To boost Nigeria’s creative economy and enhance its global competitiveness in the digital era, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Copyright Bill 2022 into law on March 17, 2023. This legislation replaces the outdated Copyright Act of 2004 and aims to safeguard intellectual property rights while fostering innovation and creativity. In this article, we will explore the key amendments introduced by the Copyright Act 2022 and their potential impact on Nigeria’s creative industry.
Expanded Rights for Authors: The new Copyright Act recognizes the changing digital landscape by granting authors exclusive rights to make their works accessible to the public through various digital means. This provision ensures authors have control over their creations and protects against unauthorized online use. The Act also prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures, strengthening the protection of digital copies of copyrighted works.
Stricter Penalties for Infringement: The Act introduces more severe penalties for criminal copyright infringements, particularly those involving the unauthorized commercial communication of copyrighted works. Offenders may face substantial fines and imprisonment, with corporate bodies risking asset forfeiture. These stringent measures aim to combat piracy, the importation of infringing works, and other forms of copyright infringement prevalent in the digital realm.
Enhanced Fair Use Provisions: The Copyright Act 2022 replaces the previous closed fair dealing provision with an open fair use provision, akin to the approach followed in the United States. This change provides more extensive exceptions for fair use, enabling the use of copyrighted material for purposes such as private use, criticism, commentary, and news reporting. The Act’s flexible framework allows for adaptation to emerging uses facilitated by digital technology, fostering a climate of creativity and innovation.
Expanded Authority of the Nigerian Copyright Commission: The Act empowers the Nigerian Copyright Commission with additional authority to block or disable access to infringing content, links, or websites. The Commission’s responsibilities now include investigating and resolving infringement cases, prosecuting non-compliant individuals, and safeguarding the moral rights of authors. These provisions strengthen the Commission’s ability to effectively enforce copyright regulations and protect the interests of creators.
Other Amendments: In line with inclusivity, the Copyright Act addresses the accessibility needs of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, or print-disabled by ensuring their access to learning and reading materials in formats suitable for their use. The Act also provides for fair remuneration to owners of sound recordings and audiovisual works for their broadcasting. Furthermore, the establishment of a fund supports the Nigerian Copyright Commission in achieving the objectives outlined in the Act.
Intellectual Property Challenges and Artificial Intelligence: While the Copyright Act 2022 strengthens intellectual property protection, it does not explicitly address the copyrightability of works created by artificial intelligence. This raises significant questions as AI continues to play an expanding role in creative endeavors. In contrast, the United States Copyright Office has acknowledged the copyrightability of AI-assisted works involving human authorship.
Conclusion: The Copyright Act 2022 represents a significant step towards advancing intellectual property protection and promoting a globally competitive creative economy in Nigeria. The inclusion of stricter laws and penalties is expected to discourage copyright infringement. However, challenges remain, particularly in addressing the copyrightability of works generated by artificial intelligence. As Nigeria embraces digital advancements and supports innovation, it is crucial to continually adapt the legal framework to effectively address emerging challenges while safeguarding the rights of all stakeholders within the creative industry.
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