Many business owners are unsure about whether their artistic or creative content will attract copyright protection. In this post, we address copyright questions your business may have.
Generally, copyright is a bundle of intangible economic rights provided to authors of original, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. By protecting economic rights, copyright seeks to encourage creative works by ensuring authors get a just reward for their efforts. It should be noted that copyright protects an original mode of expression, not the underlying idea expressed.
The primary right often associated with copyright protection is the sole right to produce or reproduce the work, or any substantial part thereof, in any material form. However, holders of copyright have access to a more expansive set of rights, including the right to create certain derivative works (for example, translations of the work) and moral rights that protect the integrity of the work and the author’s association with it.
To be covered by copyright protection,the work must be original and expressed, at least to some extent, in a material form capable of identification. Of note for many businesses, you do not automatically give up your copyright in a work if you post it online. However, depending on the manner in which and place it is posted, it may;
a) be subject to contracts such as terms of service that affect copyright, or
b) imply a license for others to copy and use the work.
Authorship and Ownership
The author of a work must be a natural person, not a corporate entity, which means that your company cannot be an author of a work. However, the author of a copyrighted work is not always the owner of the copyright. Where an author creates a work under the employment of some other person (including a company, which is a legal person), the employer is generally the first owner of copyright from the moment copyright subsists.
The same is not the case for independent contractors, who will typically be first owners of copyright for the works they author in the absence of contractual language to the contrary.
In either case, it is important that agreements with employees and independent contractors include clear language on assignment of copyright (as well as other forms of IP), and include waivers of moral rights.
Copyright in a work generally begins with the creation of the work and ends 50 years after the end of the year of the author’s death in the case of films, sound recordings and 70 years in the case of literary and artistic works. This is the case even where a company is the first owner, as described above.
When the copyright in a work expires, it enters the public domain and can be freely copied in that jurisdiction. You do not need to ‘renew’ the copyright on your work – it will automatically carry through the lawful term of copyright.
Registration of Copyrights in Nigeria
You do not need to indicate that your work is copyrighted, nor do you need to register your copyright in order to receive copyright protection. However, registering your copyright is useful in enforcing your copyright since it;
a) creates rebuttable
presumptions that the work is covered under copyright protection, and
b) that you are the lawful copyright owner.
What does Copyright Protect?
Copyright protects original creations in the literary and artistic fields which are fixed in medium from which they can be reproduced, or otherwise communicated. Examples of works protected include;
– Literary works (novels, stories, poetical works, plays, computer programmes, letters, encyclopedias, law reports, etc);
– Artistic works ( paintings, drawings, maps, plans, woodcuts, works of architecture, sculpture, craftsmanship, etc);
– Musical works (musical notations and compositions);
– Sound recordings; and
Titles, ideas, concepts, procedures, methods or things of similar nature are not protected by Copyright.
Is my Copyright Protected Globally?
Copyright protection is essentially territorial in nature. By virtue of membership of certain international copyright treaties and conventions, works of Nigerian citizens enjoy protection in territories of member countries of such treaties to which Nigeria is a party, including the Berne Convention.
Timeline and Cost of Copyright Registration in Nigeria
The duration of the registration process depends on the method of application. Generally, applications are processed within 10 working days. The fee for registration is ₦30, 000 (ten thousand naira) per application for those paying in naira, and $150 USD for those who are registering from outside Nigeria.
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