Court Ruling On IP Struggle Between Movie Producers Shows Level Of Copyright Awareness In Nigeria 24/04/2017 by Jackie Opara for Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)LAGOS, Nigeria — A federal high court in Lagos granted an interim order on 24 March, stopping the premiere and release of a movie called the “Okafor’s Law” over copyright infringement. Jude Idada-Okafors-Laws- Omoni-Oboli The struggle for the intellectual property was between a Canada-based script writer, Jude Idada, and a popular Nigerian movie actress and producer, Omoni Oboli. Idada, the script writer, claimed that the movie actress stole his story idea for her movie, “Okafor’s Law” in September 2016 and developed it without crediting him. According to a local news platform, News Agency of Nigeria, the movie producer said she had earlier contacted Idada to help write the screenplay for the movie for a fee but Idada failed to deliver so she went ahead and wrote and produced the movie without him. The court proceeded to stop the movie premiere, which was slated for 31 March as a release date. After hearing from both parties, the court ruled in favour of the movie actress, stating that the script writer produced to the court a totally different script which does not resemble the “Okafor’s Law”. This case in particular opened a new chapter for copyright awareness level in Nigeria, according to sources in Nigeria. Many who never believed that their work would be protected had a rethink. A series of interviews with a range of stakeholders appears to show that Nigerians are getting more aware of copyright laws. People are now more confident to sue, which can be attributed to the fact that some success has been recorded in terms of prosecuting and sentencing offenders, those interviewed said. It clearly showed that some have knowledge of copyright law but have never bothered to go through the channel because of what they viewed as bureaucratic process in the Nigeria system. Gabriel Adelaja claimed that if he had a good knowledge of the copyright laws 7 years ago, he would have been one of the richest men in the country by now. Adelaja, an IT specialist, said he introduced and designed an online registration platform for an organisation in Lagos. “After pitching the idea to them, they said that the company is not ready to go through the process of the online registration platform at the moment but less than a year later, the organisation started using the exact design of my online platform,” he said. “I went to them to challenge it but I had nothing to show that it was the idea I pitched to them earlier because there was no form of protection.” “I know about copyright but it was not in my consciousness to copyright my intellectual property,” said Adelaja. “But after series of events on copyright wars and victories, all my works have copyright and I have now devoted myself to learning more.” The Nigerian Copyright Commission during the course of reporting this story put in measures to make it easier for intellectual property to be protected. An electronic platform for copyright registering has been set up and a copyright institute which is an arm of the commission has been established to teach intellectual and copyright matters to Nigerian universities and other individuals including judges, writers and musicians. The major aim, they said, is to increase the low knowledge level about copyright laws in the country. Michaela Moye, a fiction writer based in Abuja, Nigeria, believes that more conversations still need to be happening around protecting creative work, letting people know what options are available and what steps to take. She said that many Nigerian creators, academia, understand the notion of “owning what they create”. “It’s a natural progression,” she said. “If I made something, it belongs to me. Perhaps not all creators are aware of the legal recourse available to them. Knowing one has the right to something is different from knowing how to assert that right.” Responding to the question on whether she registers her works with the copyright commission, Moye had this to say: “When I was ready to publish my book, relieved, I asked questions from my friends and family members, they were particularly helpful in guiding me through the process of obtaining ISBN and registering my intention for copyright. I believe there’s a natural copyright once something is published (this covers blogs, for example) but it is still useful to register the copyright for one’s books, scripts and music. And so far, I can’t say that I’ve experienced any copyright infringement on my fiction writing,” Moye added. Idowu Ejere, a communication specialist, said more awareness should be created in all sectors particularly the tertiary institutions where it is so rife to find students submitting thesis that was developed decades before or even recently in a different institution or country. Ejere said that in Nigeria, it is a known fact that the “fear of idea theft is the beginning of wisdom.” She narrated her experiences and a close friend experience of what not using copyright to protect their works and ideas. Her story goes thus: “In 2011, a young man approached one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the country with a value-added service that allows them to credit to users and deduct such when the user tops. He got as far as making presentations at the company’s national headquarters after which the communication with the company went cold. A few months later, that company launched the said value-added service disregarding the young innovator who came up with the idea. I asked why he didn’t do anything about it and he said he didn’t have money to employ lawyers who could beat theirs.” In her own experience, Ejere narrated: “In 2001, I was introduced to a movie director in Onitsha, Anambra, Eastern Nigeria and though he urged me to act, I was adamant that I was only interested in writing screenplays. At the time, I had written an epic story in my native culture, Edo setting. I showed him the work at his request and he collected it telling me a more experience writer will develop it further. I was naive. It was less than 6 months before he made a movie out of it changing the setting to another native culture in Nigeria, the Igbo. There was no mention of me, my work was attributed to someone else and I did not receive any kind of acknowledgement or payment. I was a naive 200 level student in the university, I simply counted my losses and moved on. However after going to school abroad and understanding the importance of intellectual property rights and what plagiarism actually means. I take it more seriously than ever before in my work. My company’s products are trademarked and my academic writings are published through renowned publishing houses. My company’s formulas are trademarked and protected by a non- disclosure agreement with the factories I work with.” Image Credits: Big Bammy's blog Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Jackie Opara may be reached at email@example.com."Court Ruling On IP Struggle Between Movie Producers Shows Level Of Copyright Awareness In Nigeria" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.