by Bunmi Ibigbami.

Policy Issue: Industry

According to the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. John Asein, Nigeria loses $3billion to piracy annually. Piracy has adversely affected many stakeholders in the creative industry. The adverse effects are characterised by monetary loss and bankruptcy of well-known creative practitioners, as it has been reported that ‘once successful men in the creative industry now beg for survival’. Asein concluded at the maiden meeting of the commission’s Governing Board meeting that the fight against piracy should be extended to the stakeholders in the industry (schools -in case of book piracy; movie and music industries).


Piracy is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission from the intellectual owner. It covers the infringement on the exclusive rights of the owner of the work, such as right to reproduce, distribute, display, perform the protected work or make derivative works.[ii] According to Price water House Coopers Entertainment and Media Outlook[iii], Nigeria remains one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment and media markets in Africa with overall growth of 15.7% in 2016, reaching $3.8 billion (see in fig 1[iv] below).

Projected compound annual growth rates in the entertainment and media sector, 2015-2020







For example, Nollywood is recognised as the second largest film producer in the world.[v] The Industry contributed 2.3% (N239biliion) to Nigeria’s GDP in 2016. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $1billion in export revenue by 2020.[vi] Despite this rapid growth, piracy still remains a salient form of corruption in Nigeria that has led to huge loss for stakeholders in the entertainment industry – film and music industries. The efficient protection of intellectual property in Nigeria remains a challenging issue.

Why is there a high rate of piracy in the creative industry in Nigeria? How can this be curbed?

Firstly, our values. Nigerians place little or no value on intellectual property. Creative works are disregarded a lot in the country. People do not see the need to spend so much on purchasing ‘original DVDs or books’ when a cheaper counterfeit could be acquired easily. This is largely based on the lack of knowledge of copyright in the country.[vii] From a report, ‘the tragedy of piracy in Nigeria is the fact that even the filmmakers, music producers, artistes, distributors, exhibitors and vendors are all consumers of pirated movies, music recordings or books online and offline’.[viii] Therefore, the problem of piracy is double sided.

Secondly, the less value for creative work is affected by the poor quality of production of such works. For example, the quality of Nigerian films cannot be compared to Hollywood films. Nigerian films are often characterized by poor picture quality, poor sound, weak script and poor acting. This is because most of their productions are based on very low budget and inadequate infrastructure.[ix] Movie makers complain of lack of access to adequate funds to produce quality movies. Investors are also sceptical of investing in a production that is uncertain of yielding adequate gain. This challenge is largely caused by the poor state of the country’s economy.

There is also a challenge of archaic laws in the country. For example, the Nigerian Copyright Act[x] has only been amended twice since its enactment in 1938 and there are ambiguities in some of its provisions[xi]. According to a report[xii], the current (21st century) forms of copyright infringement is such that cannot be prevented within the realms of the ‘skeletal’ provisions in the Act. While there is need for a review of the act to meet up with the technological advancement in the society, there is also need to influence and increase people’s knowledge of the existence and provisions of the act. Also, bodies regulating copyrights in Nigeria are inefficient. For example, the associations within the industry appear to have lost control over the actors and productions in their industry, producers tend to act independent.

Conclusively, the position of Nigeria as one of Africa’s largest market for copyrighted works has given the country a bad image in the international community and this adversely affects foreign direct investment (FDI). The judicial arm of government needs to step into the intellectual property world of the country by setting up an independent court or an arbitral panel that would be saddled with the responsibility of settling issues relating to copyright infringement faster and more efficiently. Enlightenment and awareness campaigns should also be taken down to the grass root level of the society. Also, the Copyright Commission should establish a form of informal social helpline that would enable an ordinary Nigerian to report cases of copyright infringement[xiii]. The social helpline will be charged with the responsibility of explaining the rights and remedies (if any) available to any complainant.


[i]‘Nigeria loses $3bn to piracy yearly’ on the 9th of July 2019 in the Punch Newspaper (Online Version). Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[ii]How to Stop Piracy in Nigeria Entertainment Industry by Ajumoke Nwaeze in Buzz Nigeria. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[iii]Figures of the week: Africa’s entertainment and media industry by Mariama Sow on the 27th of October, 2016 in the Brookings Blog. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[iv]Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2016–2020, PwC, Ovum. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[v]Spotlight – The Nigerian film industry by Femi Osinubi in PCW blog. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[vi]Nigeria Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020, pg. 32

[vii]‘Nigerians don’t take advantage of intellectual property’ on the 29th October 2018 in the Punch Newspaper (Online Version). Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[viii]Nigeria: Nollywood and the Vicious Circle of Movie Piracy. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[ix]Nollywood; cinema of Nigeria. Available at: Date accessed: 09/07/2019.

[x]Copyright Act, Cap. C. 28 LFN 2004

[xi]Section 51 of Copyright Act defines communication to the public to exclude broadcast and re-broadcast; the implication of this is that any broadcasting or re-broadcasting that is an infringement of copyright in a broadcast by satellite and cable will not amount to an infringement once it is a broadcast to the public.

[xii]See Hemen Philip Faga & Ole Ngozi (2016). Limits of Copyright Protection in Contemporary Nigeria: Re Examining the Relevance of the Nigerian Copyright Act in Today’s Digital and Computer Age. The Legislative and Institutional Framework of Environmental Protection in the Oil Journal. pg. 14.

[xiii]Ibid. pg. 15.