Analysis of the Protective Role of Intellectual Property Law in the Entertainment Industry

INTRODUCTION

The entertainment industry includes a wide range of media, such as music, films, sports, and more, and acts as a global gathering place for people to unwind and socialise. The inventiveness of people or groups lie behind these various forms of entertainment, and because the industry is so fiercely competitive, their intellectual property is vulnerable to theft and infringement.

The acquisition of intellectual property rights, which are governed by various statutory provisions falling under the purview of intellectual property law, is necessary to protect these concepts when they are transformed into tangible works.

This article aims at clarifying the critical role that intellectual property law plays in defending the rights of innovators and creators in the entertainment industry.

  • Overview of Intellectual Property in the Entertainment Industry

A wide range of creative works and innovations, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and recognisable symbols used in commerce, are all included in intellectual property (IP). The entertainment industry greatly benefits from these priceless intellectual assets.

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However, they are frequently exposed to infringements and misappropriations because of the industry’s high level of competition. As a result, it is crucial to acquire and safeguard intellectual property rights within the framework of intellectual property law.

In order to protect the creations and inventions of others, creators and inventors are granted intellectual property rights as justifiable claims and entitlements. For a specific time, these rights are granted exclusively and legally to specific people or groups, usually for business purposes.[1]

Under Nigerian laws, copyrights, trademarks, patents, and industrial designs are the vehicles through which intellectual property are protected which consequently safeguards the rights and interests of creators working in the country’s entertainment industry. These vehicles are examined below.

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     1. Copyrights

A key component of intellectual property law is copyright, which gives exclusive rights to those who create original works.[2] These rights cover a number of things, including the ability to reproduce, distribute, perform the work in public, and adapt it.

It consists of both moral rights, which defend the author’s honour and reputation, and economic rights, which permit the author to profit materially from their works.[3]

A work must fit into one of the defined categories listed in the Copyright Act in order to be protected by copyright. Literary works, musical compositions, works of art, motion pictures, sound recordings, and broadcasts are examples of these categories.[4]

Additionally, the work must satisfy the fixation and originality requirements of copyright.[5]

Fixation refers to the need for the work to be expressed in a concrete manner, such as through writing or recording, whereas originality denotes that the work exhibits sufficient creativity and is not merely a rehash of previously held beliefs.[6]

It is significant to remember that copyright protection is automatic at the time a work is created and that registration is not required.[7]

Nevertheless, a certificate of ownership that serves as a public record of the existence of the work is one of the additional benefits of registering a copyright with the appropriate authorities, such as the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

Copyright is essential in the context of the entertainment industry for safeguarding a variety of creative works, including musical compositions, recordings, written works, and artistic expressions.

It makes sure that unauthorised people or groups are prevented from carrying out tasks like copying, disseminating, performing, or adapting the copyrighted works without getting the proper consent from the original authors.

Derivative or adapted works are also covered by copyright protection, making it illegal to alter pre-existing works without the owner’s consent.[8]

Copyright encourages innovation, creativity, and financial investment in the entertainment industry by defending the rights of creators and offering a legal framework for protection.[9] It inspires writers, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives to create new works because they know that their efforts will be valued and protected.

Furthermore, by enabling creators to profit from their work through licencing, sales, and other commercial endeavours, copyright protection promotes economic growth.

     2. Trademarks

Trademarks are distinctive images, names, signs, or expressions that set one company’s products or services apart from those of competitors.[10] Trademarks are essential in the entertainment industry for building brand identities and safeguarding the market presence and reputation of entertainment businesses.

Trademarks must fulfil specific requirements outlined in the Trade Marks Act in order to qualify for legal protection. These specifications call for things like distinctive marks, signatures, invented words, marks that don’t directly relate to the nature of the goods, and other distinguishing features.[11]

It is necessary to register a trademark with the relevant authorities in order to receive automatic trademark protection.[12]

Entertainment businesses secure exclusive rights to their brand identities by registering their trademarks, preventing unauthorised use by other organisations.

In order to prevent confusion or misrepresentation, this protection is essential, because it guarantees that customers can recognise and differentiate one brand from another.[13]

For instance, trademarks that need to be protected in the entertainment industry include band names, team names in sports, logos, and performers’ pseudonyms.

The ability to take legal action against trademark infringements is made possible by trademark registration for brand owners. It gives them the ability to defend their legal claims and seek redress in the event of unauthorised use or attempts to deceive customers by mixing up different brands.

The integrity of their brands and the steadfast loyalty of their audience or customers can be preserved by trademark owners by taking legal action to protect their economic and reputational interests.

Additionally, trademarks help the entertainment industry expand and develop as a whole. They lay the groundwork for consumer trust and brand recognition, which facilitates efficient brand building and marketing.

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By assuring entertainment businesses that their distinctive brand identities will be protected and their investments in marketing and promotion will be protected, trademark protection fosters innovation and creativity.

     3. Patents

An essential component of intellectual property law that gives inventors exclusive rights over their inventions is the patent system.[15] Patents are essential in the entertainment industry for securing the use of cutting-edge tools, machinery, and procedures in all facets of entertainment production and distribution.[16]

An invention must fulfil specific requirements outlined in the Patents and Designs Act in order to qualify for patent protection.

Novelty, inventiveness, and industrial applicability are some of these criteria.[17] In other words, the invention must be original, involve a novel advancement over prior art, and be useful in an industrial setting.

Patents provide protection for a wide range of inventions in the entertainment industry. Technological innovations that improve sports safety, filmmaking gear, audio and visual technologies, and other creative solutions are some examples of these inventions.

By controlling how and whether their inventions can be used by others, inventors can maintain exclusive control over them thanks to patent protection.

Intellectual property law ensures that inventors have the chance to profit from their inventions by granting patent rights. Patent owners have the option to licence their creations to third parties, creating new revenue streams and encouraging innovation in the sector.[18]

Patents also motivate creators to advance the entertainment industry by encouraging them to keep pushing the limits of technology.

It is crucial to keep in mind that patent protection is not always provided automatically; instead, the inventor must submit a patent application to the Registrar of patents and designs under the Patents and Design Acts of Nigeria.[19]

If the necessary fees are paid, the typical length of patent protection is twenty years from the application filing date. However, the patent may expire before its twenty-year term if the annual fees are not paid.[20]

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     4. Industrial Design

Industrial Design is a crucial area of Nigerian intellectual property law that protects the aesthetic and visual qualities of goods used in the entertainment industry.[21] It includes safeguarding an object’s distinctive arrangement, pattern, ornamentation, or other features that add to their aesthetic appeal.

The Patents And Designs Act governs industrial design protection in Nigeria. An industrial design must be new or original in order to be eligible for protection, which means that it must not have been made available to the public before the application’s filing date anywhere in the world.[22]

The design must also not be contrary to public order or morality.[23] The creator or owner of the industrial design must submit an application to the registrar of patents and designs in order to obtain industrial design rights.[24]

Once a design is registered, the owner is granted the sole right to use it and can forbid unauthorised use by third parties. This includes the ability to make money off the design and forbids any unauthorised duplication or imitation.[25]

Industrial design protection is essential in the entertainment industry for preserving the distinctive visual components of goods like audio and visual gear, stage sets, costumes and packaging. Exclusive rights allow creators and designers to profit from their inventive creations, promote investment in sectors that are driven by design, and promote healthy competition based on aesthetic appeal.

 

  • The Duration of Intellectual Property Rights

Understanding the protection provided to creators and inventors in the entertainment industry requires taking into account the duration of intellectual property rights. The time frame varies based on the type of intellectual property and the applicable Nigerian law.

The Copyright Act establishes the length of protection for copyrights. Literary, artistic, and musical works are typically protected by copyrights for the duration of their authors’ lives as well as an additional 70 years after their passing. [26]

When a government or corporate entity owns the copyright, the protection is in place for 70 years following the date of first publication.[27]

Audiovisual works and photographs are covered by copyright protection for 50 years following the date of initial publication.[28] Similarly, after 50 years from the date of the initial recording, the copyright for sound recordings and broadcasts also expires.[29]

The Patents and Designs Act governs patents and establishes their duration. If the required fees are paid, a patent in Nigeria is granted for 20 years from the date the application was filed. The patent could expire before the 20-year mark if the yearly fees are not paid.[30]

On the other hand, trademarks have an extension period. A trademark is initially registered for seven years from the date of registration. But as long as the renewal fees are paid, it can be extended indefinitely over subsequent 14-year intervals.[31]

Furthermore, protection for industrial designs is granted for a five-year initial period beginning on the application filing date.[32] A maximum of fifteen years’ worth of protection can be provided during this time by renewing it twice for terms of five years each.[33]

The length of an inventor’s or creator’s intellectual property rights should be understood by those working in the entertainment industry. Knowing the timeline enables them to organise and make well-informed choices regarding their inventions or creations, including when and how to use them for commercial purposes.

 

  • Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights

The entertainment industry takes intellectual property rights violations very seriously because improper use or exploitation of works that are protected can jeopardise the rights and financial interests of inventors and creators.

Infringers of intellectual property have options under Nigerian law to address the situation and seek compensation.

The Trade Marks Act, the Patents and Designs Act, and the Copyright Act all provide legal frameworks for handling intellectual property violations in Nigeria. These laws give intellectual property rights holders the ability to pursue civil or criminal legal action against infringers.

Sections 14, 15, 17 and 18 of the Copyright Act serve as the legal foundation for filing civil lawsuits in the Federal High Court when copyright violations occur. This enables owners of copyrights to pursue remedies against the infringer, such as injunctions, damages, and accounts of profits.

The Copyright Act also allows for criminal actions to be taken, with penalties and sanctions against those found guilty of copyright infringement.[34]

Sections 5(2) and 6(2) of the Trade Marks Act’s and Sections 6 and 19 of the Patents and Designs Act’s both enable owners of intellectual property rights to pursue legal action against infringers.

Depending on the type and severity of the infringement, these provisions give patent and trademark owners the ability to launch civil or criminal proceedings.

Creators and inventors can prevent unauthorised use, copying, or imitation of their works, inventions, and brands by upholding their intellectual property rights. By doing this, their financial interests are protected and they are given the chance to benefit from their innovation and creativity.

It is crucial for rights holders to be vigilant in spotting and addressing infringement in the entertainment industry, where intellectual property is frequently exploited.

The integrity of creative works can be preserved, potential infringers can be discouraged, and the economic value of intellectual property can be protected.

 

CONCLUSION

The powerful barrier of intellectual property law protects the priceless inventions and creations made possible by the enormous entertainment industry. Creators and inventors are granted exclusive protection over their works through copyrights, trademarks, patents, and industrial design rights. This enables them to profit from their labour and encourage more creativity.

The protection of copyrights ensures that the original authors retain control over the reproduction, performance, and distribution of their literary, artistic, and musical works.

In order to distinguish brands and avoid consumer confusion or misrepresentation, trademarks are essential.

Patents give creators the sole authority over their technological innovations, giving them control over how their creations are used and applied.

Industrial Design rights also protect the aesthetic qualities of works, ensuring that distinctive and appealing designs are protected.

Creators and inventors must be aware of how long intellectual property rights last. According to Nigerian law, copyright, patent, and trademark rights have set expiration dates and renewal requirements. People can make informed decisions about the commercial exploitation and protection of their intellectual property assets by remaining knowledgeable about these time frames.

Legal action becomes necessary in the event of intellectual property violations. Nigerian laws give rights holders the means to pursue civil or criminal legal action against infringers.

Creators and inventors can prevent unauthorised use, preserve the integrity of their works, and protect their financial interests by enforcing intellectual property rights.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Oloko, T. (2011). The Administration and Regulation of Intellectual Property Rights in Nigeria. Nigerian LJ15, 148.

[2] Owushi, E. (2019). Protecting Copyright Owners in Nigeria: A Panacea for Intellectual Development. International Journal of Knowledge Content Development & Technology10(1), 21-34.

[3] Ojukwu, Ebele V., Young Sook Onyiuke, and Chinyere C. Esimone. “Intellectual property rights enforcement in Nigeria: A prop for music industry.” US-China Education Review B 5.6 (2015): 373-381.

[4] Section 2 (1), Copyright Act, 2023

[5] Section 2 (2) & (3), Copyright Act, 2023

[6] Section 2 (1) (b), Copyright Act, 2023

[7] See M.C.S. (Nig.) Ltd. Gte v. Adeokin Records, (CA) (2007) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1052) 616

[8] Section 10 (1) (g), Copyright Act, 2023

[9] Ofili, Onyeka Uche. “Challenges facing entrepreneurship in Nigeria.” International Journal of Business and Management 9.12 (2014): 258.

[10] Section 67, Trade Marks Act

[11] Sections 9 & 10, Trade Marks Act

[12] Section 3, Trade Marks Act

[13] Eze, O. C. (1979). Trademarks in Nigeria. World Development7(7), 727-736.

[14] Eze, O. C. (1979). Trademarks in Nigeria. World Development7(7), 727-736.

[15] Oyedepo, O. (2012). Patent and Economic Development in Nigeria. Nigerian LJ16, 144.

[16] Champion, W. T., & Willis, K. D. (2014). Intellectual property law in the sports and entertainment industries. ABC-CLIO.

[17] Section 1, Patents and Designs Act

[18] Section 10, Patents and Designs Act

[19] Section 3, Patents and Designs Act

[20] Section 17, Patents and Designs Act

[21] Uka, G. O., & Onwuekwe, C. O. (2022). The Role of Industrial Design Practice In Nigerian Development, Vis-À-Vis Visual Communication Design. Books/Feschschrifts.

[22] Section 13 (1) (a), Patents and Designs Act

[23] Section 13 (1) (b), Patents and Designs Act

[24] Section 15, Patents and Designs Act

[25] Section 19, Patents and Designs Act

[26] Section 19 (1) (a), Copyright Act, 2023

[27] This used to be the position under the repealed Copyright Act, CAP C28, LFN 2004. This provision is omitted under the Copyright Act, 2023

[28] Section 19 (1) (c), Copyright Act, 2023

[29] Section 19 (1) (d), Copyright Act, 2023

[30] Section 17, Patents and Designs Act

[31] Section 23, Trade Marks Act

[32] Section (20) (1) (a), Patents and Designs Act

[33] Section (20) (1) (b), Patents and Designs Act

[34] Section 44, Copyright Act, 2023

 

About the Author 

Obadiah Rosemary Mamman, is a second- year Law Student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She has a keen interest in Intellectual Property Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, creative writing and Data analysis. I am an ardent believer of Anaïs Nin’s words ” We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect”

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