Copyright Infringement Cases in Nigeria: Sale and Possession of Pirated Films and Sound Recordings

NLIPW Copyright Law Volume 2 Number 8

eDigest

(Sale and Possession of Pirated Films and Sound Recordings in Nigeria)

September 27, 2014

Content:

  1. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Oba Okechukwu
  2. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Dominion Kalu
  3. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Nworie Anayo
  4. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Godwin Obasi
  5. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Eze Igwe
  6. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Stanley Nwankwo

The sale of Illegal copies of CDs and DvDs containing local and foreign music and movies in Nigeria has been one of the areas the Nigerian Copyright Commission has focused on in its enforcement efforts aimed at protecting the rights of copyright holders.  Through the court system, the Commission has taken action against persons accused of selling or being in possession of pirated films and sound recordings.  Below are a few of such cases:

1. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Oba Okechukwu

Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2012

Date:     Delivered on October 23, 2012
Judge:    Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati
Court:    Federal High Court Abuja
Citation: 55 NIPJD (FHC. 2012) ABJ/CR/56/2012
Charge: Sale and Possession of Local and Foreign Musical and Cinematograph Films

The accused was charged for being in possession (other than for private use) and for the sale of 126 infringing copies of cinematograph films and musical works in DVDs, VCDs and CD formats in breach of Section 20(2)(a) and (c) of the Nigerian Copyright Act, Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.  The infringing works included foreign films and TV series with the titles: Hotel Rwanda (2004), Prison Break (TV Series 2005-2009), and Black Death (2010).

Section 20:

(2). Any person who-

(a) sells or lets for hire or for the purposes of trade or business, exposes or offers for sale or hires any infringing copy of any work in which copyright subsists; or

(c) has in his possession, other than for his private or domestic use, any infringing copy of any such work; or

is guilty of an offence under this Act, and liable upon conviction to a fine of N100 for every copy dealt with or imprisonment for six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja sentenced the accused to three months imprisonment for the sale of 126 infringing copies of cinematograph films and musical works in DVDs, VCDs and CD formats in breach of Section 20(2)(a) and (c) of the Copyright Act.  Delivering the judgement on October 23, 2012, Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati also imposed a fine of N12,600 and ordered that the infringing copies be handed over to the Nigerian Copyright Commission for destruction in accordance with Section 20(5) of the Copyright Act.

“The punishment for the offence under Section 20(2)(a) of the Copyright Act, CAP C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, is a fine of N100 for every copy of the infringed item dealt with or in the case of an individual, to both fine and imprisonment.  The term of imprisonment is not specified by the Act. From the evidence i.e. exhibits C1 – C126, the copies dealt with are 126 in number. 126 x 100 = 12,600.

The convict is therefore sentenced to a fine of N12,600.00 and imprisonment for 3 months commencing from the date of his arrest and detention being 28 July, 2011.

Exhibits C1 – C126 to be handed over to the Complainant/Prosecution for destruction. The convict to be remanded in prison pending the payment of fine.”….Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati


2. Nigerian Copyright Commission v. Dominion Kalu

Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/12/2012

Date:     Delivered on March 28, 2012
Judge:    Justice Adamu Bello
Court:    Federal High Court Abuja
Citation:  55 NIPJD (FHC. 2012) ABJ/CR/12/2012
Charge:  Sale and Possession of Local and Foreign Musical and Cinematograph Films

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