Pirates of the Digital Sphere: Nigeria’s Move to Stifle Piracy


Nigeria’s vast creative industry extends beyond the realm of the Nollywood film industry and into music, publishing and media broadcasting.  According to preliminary data, Nigeria’s copyright-based industries contribute as much as 1.2 trillion naira (US$7.5 billion) annually to the Nigerian economy.

Much growth potential in the creative industries is stifled by piracy. Given the economic growth potential and importance of creative development, the effective enforcement of a copyright regime is crucial to enabling the sustenance and future development of Nigeria’s creative industries.  The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), the country’s primary regulatory and enforcement body for copyright, is charged with the task of deploying Nigeria’s zero-tolerance policy with respect to piracy.

Although the NCC has successfully reduced piracy with the assistance of the 2007 regulatory framework for registering and monitoring optical disc replicating plants, the digital and international sphere add layers of complexity.  Nigerian Copyright Law is undergoing review to align it with current international standards that function to remedy the challenges that digital technologies pose.  Suggested amendments include anti-circumvention measures, the criminalization of the manufacturing and distribution of circumvention devices and the unauthorized trafficking and alteration of such works.

Intellectual property can potentially generate wealth, alleviate poverty, create jobs and boost economic growth. Nigeria’s creative industries need the opportunity to flourish and artists require recognition and remuneration for works that make up such an important part of the cultural and social fabric. Copyright legislation in Nigeria is a work in progress and needs to adapt to accurately represent technological and international changes that have significant implications for rights holders.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About: Tracy Ayodele

Tracy Ayodele is a Canadian lawyer, called to the Bar of Ontario, and a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a keen interest in IP policy, social innovation and the intersection of technology, development and start-up culture in emerging economies. She is a spirited legal researcher and writer, and co-authored “Hot-tubbing in Canadian Patent Litigation: A Preliminary Assessment” published in the Intellectual Property Journal.

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2 thoughts on “Pirates of the Digital Sphere: Nigeria’s Move to Stifle Piracy”

  1. Vee says:

    Great article Tracy.

    A crucial point you highlighted is that, “intellectual property can potentially generate wealth, alleviate poverty, create jobs and boost economic growth”. It makes sense, but I guess many of us overlook that fact. Perhaps society at large needs more education on how for instance piracy does more damage than good (the bigger picture kinda thing)?

    • tracyayodele says:

      Thanks for your response Virginia!

      You’re right, many often overlook the fact that piracy has vast detrimental effects for content creators, artists and rights holders. Further, the ease whereby the public can gain access to [FREE!] pirated content often makes it easier ignore the effort put into such works. In addition to education, we need a system that makes content available in a way that is better aligned with the digital and technological environment, at a price that consumers are comfortable with!

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