Senate proposes one-year jail, N2m fine for Facebook, Twitter posts copyright abuse
The Senate has reviewed the Copyright Act 2004 to make it an offence to broadcast any digital or online work of a performer without first obtaining their consent.
The proposed legislation, which the Senate passed on Wednesday, was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Copyright Act CAP LFN 2004 and to Re-enact the Copyright Act 2022,’ which Senator Mukhail Abiru sponsored.
The bill, when it is signed into law, would make the broadcasting or duplication of any online audiovisual work without the consent of the performer an infringement.
These include audio or visual works by a performer posted on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter or any other online platforms.
Clause 73 of the bill provides for a fine of not less than N100,000 or a jail term of not less than one year for an individual; and a fine of not less than N2m where criminal liability arises in respect of infringement of performer’s rights.
Clause 65 of the bill states that, “In the absence of express agreement to the contrary, a performer’s consent to the broadcasting of his performance shall be deemed to include his consent to an authorised rebroadcasting of his performance, the fixation of his performance for broadcasting purposes and the reproduction for broadcasting purposes of such fixation.”
Passage of the bill followed the consideration and adoption of a report by the Joint Senate Committee on Trade and Investment; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Co-Chair of the committee, Senator Saidu Alkali, in his presentation, said the bill essentially seeks to strengthen the copyright regime in Nigeria to enhance the competitiveness of its creative industries in a digital and knowledge-based global economy.
Alkali stated that the re-enactment of the Act would effectively protect the rights of authors to ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts.
The lawmaker, however, stated that the legislation would also provide appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, encourage cultural interchange and advance public welfare.
He explained that when signed into law by the President, the new law would facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations arising from relevant international copyright treaties and enhance the capacities of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for effective administration and enforcements of the provisions of the a copyright Act.
Alkali said, “Piracy of Nigerian creative works has devastated businesses, harmed consumers and acted as disincentive to foreign direct investment in relevant sectors.
“The proposed legislation makes online/digital reproduction an infringement as well as properly defines copy to accommodate transient or non-permanent copy that are obtainable online.”
The lawmaker noted that the bill seeks to align Nigeria’s copyright law to be in line with relevant international treaties, including the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
He added that the bill also provides for new rights of remuneration for performers in respect of audiovisual works.