Limits of Copyright Protection in Contemporary Nigeria: Re-Examining the Relevance of the Nigerian Copyright Act in Today’s Digital and Computer Age
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the world has witnessed astronomical advancement in scientific and technological innovations which have changed the face of modern society, leading many thinkers to term this present civilization ‘the jet age’. This technological advancement has had enormous impact on the world’s legal systems, disrupting traditional modes of protection of intellectual property, and has left the law completely in a state of flux, due to the ever changing forms of innovations; such as computers including palmtops and hitech phones, satellite and cable receivers/signals, facsimile transmissions and the perpetually growing internet. In Nigeria, the Copyright Act purports to protect intellectual property including digital innovations. Notwithstanding, the country remains the largest piracy destination and market in the world. This article examines the Nigerian Copyright Act with the view of identifying the inadequacies which account for the inability of the Act to accord adequate protection to digital inventions in the country. Attention is particularly paid to the problem of the skeletal nature of the Act with respect to the rights of innovators of digital technology and other shrewd and manifests ambiguities and contradictions contained in it. This article also reveals the technological shortcomings which have made it possible for infringers of digital inventions to assail the technology with impunity, and therefore make it impossible for our Copyright Act to live up to its mandate. Thus, in the fight against piracy and copyright infringements of digital innovations, this article strongly recommends extralegal measures, such as administrative, social, judicial and technological, to tame the tide of an otherwise purely socio-legal problem. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere, the law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on and that will be bad for both.