An article written by ‘Tomi Ajayi (Esq.) in honour of Azeezat Sofunde who is contributing her quota to the growth of the Craft sector in Nigeria. (23 September 2018)
How does the Law really protect your work?
The branch of Law that protects your craft is Intellectual Property Law (IPL) which protects innovative and marketable works created in someone’s mind so far it is a finished form. Remember copyright is automatic, so that as soon as you produce your works, no one is allowed to infringe on your copyright as others will need your permission before they can use your work which you have monopoly over for a certain period of time. But in case you instruct someone else to create the works for you, then there should be a contract between you and the person to specify who actually owns the copyright. This is necessary to avoid legal issues in the future. Basically someone else does not have a right to copy a work because the Law presumes there is an owner somewhere.
It is important to know that Copyright Law is derived from the Copyright Act of 2004 which is administered by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). It is not compulsory that you must register your work after creating them but NCC gives you an option to register your work and deposit a copy of that work with the NCC which serves as public notification that your work exists. This enables you to sue somebody who produces your product without your permission.
The whole idea is to protect your craft which gives you the confidence and assurance to share your work with the public without other people using them without your permission. As the owner of the copyright, you have the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work and prevent others from using substantially similar works without your authorization.
Note that Copyright does not cover all creations. Such Instances are as follows: 1. It does not protect your idea because idea is simply an imagination which is not fixed and nobody can see it. If the idea has not been converted into reality nor moved into creativity, copyright Law will not cover it.
2. It does not protect things/images/ phrases in public domain (PD) which one can access without obtaining permission. PD refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent Laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can freely share it, copy alter or republish it. But if an image has the words “may be subject to copyright” This means you cannt use the image without first securing the permission of the copyright holder. It means you have to contact the owner before you use his image.
3. It does not cover names, titles, short phrases and slogans or list of ingredients that appear on your product. However, through trademark, you can protect your product, logo and company symbol.
Note that your craft is your intellectual property, which is defined as: intangible property or assets. This is something that does not have physical presence or something that cannot be touched. e.g. mobile apps, downloadable music, copyrights, trademarks.It is not only meant for authors, songs writer, photographers and music publishers alone. Crafters are included because they create artistic works.