Nigeria’s entertainment scene is vibrant and diverse, encompassing various forms of art such as music, film, and fashion. It has gained international recognition, contributing to the country’s cultural and economic growth.

Copyright law plays a crucial role in protecting the creative work of artists, musicians, actors, and other professionals in the entertainment industry. It safeguards their intellectual property rights, ensuring fair compensation and preventing unauthorized use.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is an intangible, incorporeal property, which guarantees the owner the exclusive right to deal with his/her work within a stipulated time as provided under the law. [i]

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is the use or production of copyright-protected material without the permission of the copyright holder. Copyright infringement means that the rights afforded to the copyright holder, such as the exclusive use of a work for a set period, are being breached by a third party.[ii]

It is important however to note what constitutes Copyright infringement. Section 36 of the Nigerian Copyright Act 2023 provides for a wide range of acts that constitute infringement. Generally, the Act recognizes the doing, without the permission of the copyright owner, of any of the exclusive rights held by copyright as constituting copyright infringement.

The Act lists the following acts as constituting copyright infringement: [iii]

(a) does or causes any person to do an act which constitutes a violation of the exclusive rights conferred under the Act;

(b) imports or causes to be imported into Nigeria any copy of a work which if it had been made in Nigeria would be an infringing copy under the Act;

(c) sells, offers for sale, or hire any work in respect of which copyright is infringed under paragraph (a) above;

(d) makes or has in his possession, plates, master tapes, machines, equipment, or contrivances used for the sole purpose of making infringing copies of the work;

(e) permits a place of public entertainment or of business to be used for a public performance of the work, where the performance constitutes an infringement of copyright in the work, unless the person permitting the place to be used was not aware and had no reasonable ground to suspect that the performance constitutes an infringement of the copyright;

(f) permits within its premises the reproduction of a copyrighted work; or

(g) performs or causes to be performed for trade or business or the promotion of a trade or business, any work in which copyright subsists.

What needs to be established before one can sue for copyright infringement?

For copyright infringement to be established, the alleged copyright owner must be able to prove a causal connection between their work and the alleged infringing work (i.e., a high likelihood that the defendant copied their work and substantial taking by the defendant).[iv]

Challenges of Copyright Infringement on Nollywood

Piracy: Nollywood has been battling with different kinds of piracy for decades. Illicit copies of films flood the market, robbing filmmakers of their rightful earnings. These pirated copies are often of poor quality, undermining the viewing experience and damaging the industry’s reputation.

Limited knowledge: Many filmmakers and artists in Nollywood operate with limited knowledge of copyright laws and how to protect their intellectual property. This knowledge gap has left them vulnerable to exploitation and infringement.

Technological Challenges

In the digital age, online piracy has become a significant issue. Nollywood films are sometimes illegally uploaded to streaming platforms or websites, making it challenging to control their distribution. I bet you know a couple of these websites and maybe indulge in them.

Complex Distribution Networks

Nollywood films often follow complex distribution networks that can involve multiple parties, making it difficult to track and prevent unauthorized distribution.

The Solution to Copyright Infringement in Nollywood

To tackle piracy in Nigeria’s entertainment scene, active collaboration is needed among the government, law enforcement, industry groups, and the public. Defending copyright and fighting piracy can foster Nigeria’s entertainment growth, benefiting artists, stakeholders, and the economy.

Copyright law in Nigeria has played a significant role in protecting the rights of artists and ensuring fair remuneration for their creations.

Copyright law safeguards their intellectual property, preventing others from using their creations without permission or proper compensation. Under copyright law, artists have exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and publicly perform their works.

This empowers artists to have control over their creations, enabling them to negotiate fair deals with distributors, broadcasters, and streaming platforms.


Copyright infringement is increasing day by day and proactive measures need to be taken to curb the act. In as much as there is a regulation in place to control the use of copyright works, there is also a need for strict punishments for infringers.

Owners of copyright are enjoined to register their works with the Nigerian Copyright Commission and this will enable them to seek adequate remuneration for the use of their works and compensation for infringements of their copyrights.

It is also important that the Nigeria Copyright Commission and other stakeholders in the industry constantly sensitize the public on the dangers of infringing on copyright works.



[iii] Copyright Act 2023


Written bElizabeth Olalekan for The Trusted Advisors

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