It took a lot of hours and creativity to create an ebook, hit song, fun videos, or any other content posted on your page as a creator. Now that it is becoming a success, don’t you think anyone can plagiarize your work to get the same engagements or even more? Do you have protection for your intellectual property?

Oftentimes there have been cases of intellectual theft where a person claims the work of another creator because the owner did not copyright or trademark their work.

To prevent you from having such cases in the future, we will be showing you, several ways to secure your intellectual property from any potential infringement.

What is the Nigerian Creator Copyright Law? 

A copyright is a form of protection given to literary and artistic works. This means that you can copyright your books, novels, short movies, songs and more. However, as a creator, before you can be eligible for a copyright license, you should have met the following criteria:

  • Your works must be original and not a duplication of the copyright of another work.
  • At the time the work was completed, it should be confirmed that you planned to mass produce that content. For example, sell 500 copies of a book. 
  • There must be a sufficient amount of effort attached to your work to give it its intended and original character.
  • The work has a particular expression that is now known or to be improved later. This should be verifiable either directly or using any machine.

The Rights of a Creators Copyright

Protecting your works using a copyright license is beneficial to you as a creator because, without it, anyone can easily exploit your works without giving you due credit.

Using copyright allows you to control the use of your literary and artistic works. This means that no one else will be able to reproduce copies, broadcast your work, perform your songs in public, use your work online, and so much more

It also ensures that you are duly recognized as the mastermind behind that piece of work.

You can even make more money through your copyright because anyone who wants to reproduce your work will be charged to pay a fee or royalty before approval.

If you’re an author, copyright is automatic and it lasts up to 70 years after your death in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and computer-generated works and films.

For sound recordings, you’re entitled to your works for 50 years after their first publication.

Things You Cannot Copyright as a Creator

While copyright is important, there are certain things that cannot be protected by copyright irrespective of how beneficial it might be.

1. Ideas, methods, or systems: You can not copyright things like discovery methods, a formula, how you operate your business or ideas you’ve had for a project. 

2. Commonly known information: There are already popularly known terms that no one exactly knows. For example, you cannot copyright an ebook that proves how the earth isn’t flat. That’s already common information. Except you’re coming in with a different study. 

3. Choreographic work: If you haven’t recorded a performance, skit or video yet, you cannot copyright it. This also applies to speeches that haven’t been transcribed. 

4. Titles, names, short expressions, or phrases: You cannot copyright a slogan, your brand name, recipes as a food creator, and more.

 For recipes, you stand a better chance when you create a cookbook and for slogans or brand names, you can protect it with a trademark. We’ll discuss this in detail in the next section. 

5. Fashion: you cannot protect a dress using copyright because it is considered a useful article but you can if you design a specific fabric pattern. Note that although dresses cannot be copyrighted, they can be patented.

How to protect your intellectual property as a creator

As a creator, you can protect the content you put out every day by using the following hacks.

1. Copyright your work

As stated earlier, not all works are eligible for Copyright. According to Nigerian copyright law, some of the eligible works are:

  • Musical works
  • Broadcast
  • Sound recordings
  • Literary works
  • Artistic works
  • Cinematography

As a creator who specializes in any of these aspects and is passionate about the safety of your works(intellectual property), making use of Copyright is highly advisable.

According to section 6 of the Act, here’s how you can be eligible for copyright as a creator:

  • Reproduce your literary or musical work in any material form,
  • Publish these works,
  • Perform the literary or musical work in public,
  • Produce, reproduce or perform any translation of your work
  • Make any cinematograph film or record your work.
  • Broadcast or inform the public about your work using a loudspeaker, or any similar devices
  • Make any adaptations and translations of your work.

By doing any of these tips above, you have evidence that your version is truly original. Be sure to document the dates you do this so it’s more substantial.

Even though copyright is automatic, it will be favourable when you register it with NCC ( Nigerian Copyright Commission) for more recognition and easier reference. 

In 2020, a copyright case in a federal high court won N703 million because they were able to prove that they registered their work with the NCC.

2. Trademark your social media handle

Remember we listed some of the works that cannot be protected by copyright. In cases where you created a work that cannot be secured by a copyright license, Trademark can be used as a substitute.

Although Trademarks don’t protect your works as copyright does, you can protect your logo, symbols, slogans, catchphrases, designs and more.

The argument is that you need to stand out as a creator so anyone who uses similar trademarks can impersonate you. So your trademark protects your identity. 

A trademark doesn’t hinder other creators from producing content that is similar to yours, instead, it prevents other creators from using your branding assets to mislead others.

3. Read the terms and conditions of every contract

Before signing on with any brand and creating content for them either as an influencer or ambassador, read the terms well. Many times the brand might want to own the intellectual property and in some cases, they wouldn’t. 

While it’s up to you to decide if you’re okay with it, don’t be blindsided. Knowing the real terms and conditions will help you detect whether you’re being used or not.

Bottom Line

As a creator, protecting your intellectual property from theft or infringement by other creators is important. Not only do they protect your work, but you get to enjoy the benefits of your work alone. Don’t forget to share this article with other creators who might need it.