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Everything You Need To Know About Copyright Infringement As A Creative

For most people, copyright means exclusive ownership.

And, the word ‘copyright infringement’ sparks just one word in their head, theft. These definitions are both true.

Copyrights affect different types of creative in ideation and creation processes. It is important to ensure that you are not breaking any copyright laws and that you are protecting your copyright.

Because copyright and copyright infringement cases often enter a court of law, there might be some technical references in this article. Rest assured, even if you have no relations with the law, this article would simplify and help you understand everything you need to know about copyright infringement as a creative.

But first…

everything you need to know about copyright infringement as a creative

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of a person or organisation as soon as they fix the work in a tangible form of expression. In simple terms, copyright means ownership of any perceivable material you create.

Once you’ve created something, it automatically becomes your copyright. You don’t need extra documents to make it true.

The law says in Section 1(2) of the Copyright Act, that work must tick these two boxes to be qualified as eligible for copyright:

1. Sufficient effort has been expended on making the work to give it an original character

2. The work has been fixed in any definite medium of expression now known or later to be developed, from which it can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of any machine or device.

However, there are still exceptions to this.

Can All Creative Work Be Copyrighted?

Unfortunately, no. Not all created work can be copyrighted.

In Nigeria, the law only recognises specific types of creation that can be copyrighted. They are in the categories of:

(a) literary works

(b) musical works

(c) artistic works

(d) cinematograph films

(e) sound recordings

(f) broadcasts

If your creation is outside of the 6 aforementioned categories, then it is not eligible for copyright protection.

When process and structures are created for industrial use, even if it’s artistic, are not eligible for copyright protection. You may have copyright protection over the medium of publication used but not over the processes therein.

Ideas can not be copyrighted as they are not in line with the Nigerian Copyright Act.

How Do You Copyright Your Work?

You already have copyright claim immediately the work is created. However, there are some basic steps to taking the security up a notch:

  1. Add a © sign to it: This copyright notification often includes the name of author and year of publication. For example, ©Talku Talku 2022. You can see an example of this at the bottom of our pages. That said, this copyright is usually at the initial pages of a books, end credits of a video and generally at the bottom of digital work.
  2. Make A Dated Notice: Take a picture of your work or a digital copy and write down the information about your creative work. Then, you can email it to yourself or send a post. That way, there is a more secure recognition of your ownership.
  3. Use government methods. You can officially go to the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC)and make a documentation of your copyright. This is the most secure method and it can be used as proof in a law court.

Whether or not, you take these precautions to proving your ownership rights, creative work can still be used in ways unacceptable to you, knowingly or unknowingly, and this becomes copyright infringement.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is the use of an author’s/owner’s work without explicit permission and against the rights of the person.

It is a legal issue. And ignorance of the copyright protection is not an acceptable excuse in the court of law. To make sure you don’t fall into this trap, read on.

This can be done by taking part or whole of another’s person work without their permission. In most courts, it should also have had a substantial effect on the created work.

Now, copyright can not be said to have been infringed if:

  • It is used for nonprofit and/or educational purpose
  • It transforms the original work enough to change its purpose and character
  • It does not harm the copyright’s value

If you believe your work has been used, you have to ensure it was copyright infringement before a legal stand is taken against the perpetrators.

When can you say your work has been infringed? You would have to prove that the accused had access, direct evidence and obvious similarity between the works.

Solutions To Copyright Infringement

Whether you are accused of copyright infringement or you are accusing someone else of it, there are different ways to solve the matter.

  • Conversion rights: This is when all infringing copies of the work becomes the property of the original owner.
  • Damages (i.e. monetary compensation): once copyright infringement is proven, the author does not need to prove damages. An infringement of copyright immediately gives rise to damages to which the accuser is entitled to.
  • Injunctions: These restrain the person from further infringing on the copyright.
  • Inspection and seizure order: This remedy allows the author of the copyright to enter into the premises of the infringing party in order to assess the works and save evidence.
  • Account for profit: This mandates the infringer to take account of the profits made from the infringed work and paid the amount to the copyright author. This is usually used in cases where the accused, at the time of infringement, was honestly not aware that such copyright existed.

All of these methods are legally acceptable.

Next Steps

Copyright infringement is no small issue. No matter the side of the coin you’re on, ensure you are proactive in keeping yourself infringement free.

If you are stuck on ways to create your original work, browse our website for numerous articles to get you back on your feet.

Angel Umez

With an aim to be a top gun in the marketing world, Angel creates diverse forms of content to connect brands with their customers. She is also adept at creating content strategies, especially for creative, marketing, product and tech brands. Known as the “Fashionable Parrot”, she’s an avid reader and an SDG advocate.

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