Copyright Law: Influence on the Use of Information Resources in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

This study investigates the extent to which copyright law protects information products used in Nigeria and how it influences the use of information resources. Copyright law protects the rights of authors and creators and their creative and intellectual products (Ekpo 1992; Bainbridge 1990; Unsworth 1997; Okwilagwe 1998; Kawooya 2007). Copyright also seeks to promote the free flow and exchange of information by providing ways that third material may be reproduced or communicated. Kawooya (2007) observes that "copyright establishes public interest in literary and artistic creations including use of knowledge products for scholarship and research without recourse to the right-holder." Users of an intellectual work must recognise and acknowledge the rights of its creator. The author has certain rights which are not necessarily economic (Cornish, 1999). Cambridge University distinguishes four categories of rights:

* The right to be identified as the author or creator;

* The right not to have work subjected to derogatory treatment;

* The right not to have a work falsely attributed to the author; and

* The right of privacy of privately commissioned photographs and films.

The underlying idea is that creative ideas are under the absolute control of a creator or author. In Nigeria, the legal framework that protects created works is the protection decree of 1970 of the Nigerian Copyright Council for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. This legal framework was amended by the Federal Government of Nigeria, when the Nigerian Copyright Commission was inaugurated in August 1989.

Information technology (IT) has increased the number and variety of information products available in the country. According to Moahi (2002), "the technologies of computing and communication have engendered digital communication. Digital communication has in return accelerated knowledge creation and distribution". Libraries and information centres are responding to these trends. Rudolph (2005) describes the convergence of technology with new unauthorized uses of information which poses important challenges.

Statement of the Problem

According to Kent (1971), "indiscriminate access ... may prevent the copyright holder from recovering the cost of publication ... the very incentive that copyright is to encourage." Aina, (2002) states that "it is unethical to lift the work of another person verbatim without permission and claiming right to the work." Copyright tries to balance the needs of users and creators. In looking at the proliferation of information on the Internet and in other information resources in Nigeria, there is need to investigate the effectiveness of copyright law and ascertain the level of impact on creators. The study seeks to determine whether copyright law influences the use of information resources.

Literature Review

Information resources come in many forms. A survey of the literature shows a great deal of research that has been done on copyright and intellectual property, including Tymbios (1996), Cummings (1994), Adeloye (2000), and Vaidhyanathan (2001). Sharp (2000) notes that "the characteristics of the environment in which librarians are now working include greater access to a range of information, increased speed in acquiring information, greater complexity in locating, analyzing, and linking information." New approaches came with the arrival of information communication technologies (ICT). Robson (1994) observes that electronically stored data is a recent phenomenon and that the confidentiality of manually stored data has been protected by law for many years. Nigeria acceded to the Universal Copyright Convention in 1961 and promulgated a copyright decree in 1970, establishing the Nigeria Copyright Council. The law was repealed because it was ineffective and was replaced by the copyright act of 1988. The 1988 copyright act extended the duration of copyright from 25 years to 50 years for creators or authors. …