Ownership of Words

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Every culture is unique in its own way and they generally shape the belief systems and underlying values upon which societies are formed. In Nigeria, we are traditionally an oral society. Several of our folklores have passed from one generation to another. Several of these stories have been packaged and sold in both printed and digital media for educational purposes and are still being told informally in less urban areas without any references to the source of these stories or folklores.

Personally, I have always been of the opinion that no one can lay claim to ‘words’ or ‘opinions’ that are expressed in an informal setting. You generally find that people make use of words or opinions expressed by others without making any references to the supposed original owners. The situation is however has always been slightly different in formal settings, for instance, in the Academia, in the literary world as well as entertainment forms such as music and movies.

In the 60s/70s up until the 80s, there were no formal requirements for the registration of copyright in Nigeria. Your work (either in published articles or in music or movies) automatically acquires its own copyright once it has been created in a tangible format. Attitudes towards the use of already published works (Plagiarism) were also not very stringent. These days however, that is no longer the situation is very different.

The Nigerian Copyright Act was promulgated in 1988; this was done to protect the rights of original creators of published ideas and works, this covered works such as; literary, musical, artistic, cinematography, sound recordings and broadcasts. It has become something of a criminal offence is one is found to have made use of published or copyrighted works without the express permission of the rights owner. According to the Nigerian Copyright Act, Copyright is granted where; sufficient efforts has been expended on making the work to give it and original...
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