HOW CAN SOFTWARE BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT LAW?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Technology sector has become one of the fastest growing industry in Nigeria contributing approximately 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

6/7/2022 3 min read

OUR STORY

Quality, not quantity

We have made quality our habit. It’s not something that we just strive for – we live by this principle every day.

HOW CAN SOFTWARE BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT LAW?

INTRODUCTION

Since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Technology sector has become one of the fastest growing industry in Nigeria contributing approximately 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This growth has positioned Nigeria as the largest tech market on the African continent, with 90 tech hubs and a growing and vibrant customer base. Undoubtedly, these tech hubs have helped foster budding communities for software developers. Software products are important intellectual property assets, and due to the competitive nature of the software industry, they require effective protection to allow software creators to enjoy the advantages of their labor while preventing unwanted third-party exploitation. In Nigeria, software rights are protected by Copyright a branch of intellectual property.

HOW SOFTWARE QUALIFIES FOR COPYRIGHT PROTECTION:

Computer programs (commonly known as software) are classified as literary works that are eligible for copyright protection under section 1(1) Nigerian Copyright Act (NCA). Copyright safeguards a software program's distinctive expression.

[2] One might wonder how Software classifies as a literary work since it is not hand written. Literary works include nondramatic textual works with or without illustrations.

[3] They may be published or non-published. It is important to note that codes written into the computer system also known as database are literary work.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT

Section 1(2) specifies three major requirements for a work to be protected under Copyright. The first is that to enjoy protection, the author or Software developer must be a citizen and or domiciled in Nigeria or his work must have been initially created in Nigeria. Copyright extends the protection to other countries with which Nigeria is a treaty signatory. Thus your Software is equally protected in these countries. Nigeria is a signatory to Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886, the Universal Copyright Convention 1952 and the TRIPS Agreement 1995 to name a few.

In addition to this requirement is the twin objective of Originality and Fixation. Copyright Law protects the unique expression of software codes and databases. A software developer is assured automatic copyright protection in his source and object codes if it is Original and not an Infringed Copy and if it is fixated in any medium or device.

REQUIREMENT OF REGISTRATION

Unlike other areas of intellectual property law, works protected under Copyright do not need to be registered in advance. As a result, regardless of registration, a Software would be eligible for protection under Nigerian law if it meets the Originality and Fixation standards. The Nigerian Copyright Commission, on the other hand, has established a Copyright Notification Scheme to provide a definite form of reference in cases where copyright over software is disputed.

RIGHTS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

  • Copyright protects the software developer's economic as well as moral rights. It ensures that the developer reaps the greatest financial rewards from his efforts. It safeguards the work from unauthorized access, which could redirect the author's financial benefit to another source.

  • Copyright also protects the author's moral rights as well as his or her financial interests. This includes Attribution or credit as well as retraction. In other words, Copyright ensures that the developer receives proper acknowledgment for his work, particularly when it is used by others, and it also prevents the developer's name from being used by others to make money.

These rights gives the Software developer the exclusive right to produce or reproduce his codes or assign authorship or licence for use to another person while enjoying the benefits at the same time.

CONCLUSION

The Nigerian Copyright Act makes it feasible to secure software's copyright rights. As a result, as long as the standards of Originality and Fixation, as well as nationality, are met, each Program developer retains exclusive ownership of his or her software. In the event that a developer's software is infringed, he or she may seek restitution through the Nigerian Copyright Commission, or bring an action in court which would provide a suitable remedy.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

EMAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080