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Interview: Reclaiming Your Right Via Copyright

By on April 23, 2016

Plagiarism is a big issue but with a solution and that why we have the copyright law. I had a chat with a legal practitioner on how best to maximize the copy right law in Nigeria.

Here is the details of the interview.


 

 

Barrister, thanks a lot for granting us this opportunity (Us,Write-Treasurez as an organization  ).

23rd of this month is world copyright day. Plagiarism is a major issue among writers.

We know you are a lawyer and this has a lot to do with your practice. And we are grateful you granted us this opportunity to come speak with you about  this topic.

 

We would like to know you. Before we go to other questions, do  tell us a little about you

 

Bar. Victor Ibe: My name is Victor Ibeh a lawyer and Christian Preacher. I am a lifestyle writer and counselor.

 

Grace Onyebuolise:   Great to know you a bit more.

So, what really is copyright and the big deal about it?

 

Ibeh Victor: Copyright provides the assurance that  authors, artists, songwriters, music publishers and composers, photographers and other creators,   can share their work with the public without the fear of unauthorized use. It covers book publishing, photography, sound recording, broadcasting, film production etc. And gives creators the right to control the ways their materials are used by others i.e. copying, adapting, distributing, performing in public, rental or lending and other communications to the public.

In Nigeria, copyright is protected by the Copyright Act as contained in Chapter C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and it is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). The Nigerian Copyright Act provides protection for literary, musical and artistic works, cinematography, sound recordings and broadcasting.

Ordinarily copyright gives creators of literary, musical, artistic works a sense of security that their efforts won’t be wasted by literary thieves

Grace Onyebuolise: Okay, basically, it’s exclusive for people who originally created those work. So how does one maximize the copyright law?

Are there steps one need to take before their original work can be copyrighted?

 

Ibeh Victor: There is really no centralized system of registration of copyright. Registration is not mandatory. It will suffice that the author of the work has expended sufficient effort on making the work to give it original character and that the work has been fixed in a definite medium of expression from which it can be perceived or reproduced or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

For foreigners looking to copyright their works in Nigeria, at least one of the authors must be a citizen of or domicile in or a body corporate established by or under the laws of a country that is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is a party or the work must first be published in a country which is a party to an obligation in a treaty or other international agreement to which Nigeria is a party or by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies or by the Organization of African Unity or by the Economic Community of West African States.

Copyright protection in Nigeria in respect of literary, musical, or artistic other than photographs, lasts for a period of seventy years after the end of the year in which the author dies.

 

However, in the case of government or body corporate, it will expire seventy years after the end of the year in which it was first published. In the case of cinematography films and photographs the copyright will expire fifty years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made or in the case of broadcast, when the broadcast first took place

Onyebuolise Grace:  You mentioned that for foreigners looking to copyright their works in Nigeria, at least one of the authors must be a citizen of or domicile here. Does that suggest in any way that copyright protection covers one only in the country where they are citizen of or live in?

 Ibeh Victor: A person can get copyright in any country if he is domiciled there. Especially if that country and his original country are party to a treaty or other international agreement that protects intellectual property. And if their respective copyright Acts are similar.

Onyebuolise Grace: How does one recognize a copyrighted work? Is there a sign that shows a work is copyrighted?

Ibeh  Victor: You do not have to put a formal copyright notice or symbol on your work for it to be protected. Under Nigeria law, once a work is original and has been fixed into any definite medium of expression, it is protected. Copyright notices are displayed as:

 

Copyright [date] by [author/owner].

Onyebuolise Grace: Like I normally see on your timeline on Facebook. (Copyright, Victor Ibeh 2016)

Ibeh  Victor: That is an example.

Onyebuolise Grace: When is does copyright law begin to work of an author?

Ibeh Victor:Copyright in a work exists automatically when an original work is created, subsequent registration of the work under the NCeRS is evidence that your creation is protected by copyright; and facilitates recording and proof of the possible date of creation of the work and other facts stated in the application form.

 

Onyebuolise Grace: Okay. Does Copyright law protect online written work? Because most writers these days have they work on their blog or Facebook timeline and many have seen they work used by someone else without acknowledgement?

Ibeh Victor: Yes, it does.Law.

Onyebuolise Grace:  What steps should one whose work has been plagiarized take in other to recover their work?

 

Ibeh  Victor: Take screen shots of both your original material and the plagiarized material. Then copy and paste both into a word file, along with the URL. Any information may be helpful. The screen shots are your evidence that the material was on the web at the date and time of your discovery. The word file will help you recopy the material in future steps. Outside of the Internet environment, contact an authority figure such as a teacher or supervisor if you suspect that someone has plagiarized your work. You can request this meeting in a private environment if you fear backlash. Enter the website address into the WHOIS database to retrieve information regarding the webmaster for the site. The “Name Server” lists the web host. Check with the host website for contact information for the webmaster responsible for the website. Contact the webmaster responsible for hosting the offending website. Some webmasters prefer email contact while others provide their phone numbers on their host pages. Provide as much information as you can regarding when you placed the original content

on the Internet and when you located the plagiarized content. Copy and paste the word file of information into an email to the webmaster, says the Report Plagiarism Now Website. Inform them of your intention to formally report the offense if the material is not removed within a few days. If the offense is causing you financial problems such as a loss of business or theft of your product for income, inform the webmaster of your intent to report the offense immediately.

Report the offending website to Google and other popular search engines. They will move quickly to evaluate the legitimacy of your claims and remove offending content from their search engine. Provide copies of the information you have on the offending website, as well as the URL, for these search engines. Use your word file to copy and paste your collected information into an email to each search engine. Contact your attorney with all of the information you received about the offending website, as well as copies of your original work, says the Master New Media Organization. Print out your word file and include it with your information. Your attorney can initiate criminal and civil proceedings. Contacting your attorney is crucial if the plagiarism resulted in a loss of income or theft of income. Your attorney is also your best option if you believe that your work has been plagiarized in a publication such as a book or magazine. That is what you should do when your work has been plagiarized. You may also want to scan the web from time to time to check if your content has been republished elsewhere without acknowledging you as the original author. There are lots of useful tools like Copyscape that can help you detect online plagiarism.

Either with a short paragraph or the whole article, someone who republishes one of your posts without giving you full credit is infringing the law. And if that someone is also making money out of your content, things get worse

 

Generally, when you discover that you have been plagiarized, you can write an email to the webmaster of the malicious website or their hosting provider, letting them know the situation and requiring immediate cancellation of your duplicate content. If for some reason you are unable to reach the webmaster or you receive no reply after a few days, you can file a report to search engines to denounce that someone is stealing your content. Usually search engines will promptly help you, because they do not like having duplicate content scattered all around.

Optionally, you can resort to an attorney and ask to proceed legally against the owners of the website that is stealing your website content.

 

Onyebuolise Grace: Have you had cases of this nature or helped someone in this line?

Ibeh Victor: That area is not my area of specialty I deal on property law. But with my little experience I know that most Nigerians don’t really enforce their copyright because of ignorance.

 

Onyebuolise Grace: This is insightful. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Ibeh Victor: You are welcome.

 

 

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About Onyebuolise Grace

Grace Onyebuolise is a Nigerian. She studied Biochemistry at the University of Port Harcourt but her passion to read and see other read too became a career foundation for her. She runs Write Treasurez, an educational resource center that offer services as book sales, reading club, promoting books and authors, educational news and events. She writes at her spare time too but more importantly she is driven to add value to anyone she meets because that way she gets to spread the love of Jesus Christ which is the best thing that can happen to anyone.

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