How to Copyright Music in Nigeria: Guarding Your Artistry

Mathew Ekundayo - Admin

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how to copyright music in Nigeria, providing artists with the knowledge they need to protect their musical masterpieces and creative endeavors.

In Nigeria's vibrant music landscape, creativity flows like a river, and artists are constantly churning out groundbreaking melodies. However, to safeguard their intellectual property and ensure they receive due credit and compensation, musicians need to understand the intricacies of copyright law. Under copyright laws, you can copyright music, lyrics, or both.

You are also permitted to copyright a new song or new version or arrangement of an existing song. However, the song must be your original work, created by you, and shown to have a minimal amount of creativity. Chord progressions or song titles are not covered under copyright law. If you make an audio recording, you can copyright the sound recording with the copyright to the song itself.    



What Is Copyright and Why Does It Matter?

Copyright is a legal framework that grants exclusive rights to the creators of original works. In the context of music, it provides musicians with ownership over their compositions and recordings. Copyright matters because it:

  • Protects Your Intellectual Property: Copyright safeguards your creative output, ensuring that others cannot use your music without permission.
  • Enables Royalty Collection: It allows you to receive royalties when your music is played, streamed, or used in various media.
  • Facilitates Licensing Opportunities: Copyright empowers you to license your music for use in films, commercials, and other media, creating additional revenue streams.
  • Defines Ownership: It clarifies who owns the rights to a song, which can be crucial in collaborations and negotiations with record labels or publishers.


Copyright Protection in Nigeria

In Nigeria, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, and the body charged with the enforcement and protection of copyright is the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

The ownership of copyright is vested in the creator of a copyrighted work, usually referred to as the “author” of the work. He/she owns the copyright in the work in the first instance.

However, the author is at liberty to transfer his rights to a third party. In such a case, the person who has obtained the right by transfer or other legal means becomes the owner of the copyright.

What is eligible for copyright protection?

  • Literary works;
  • Musical works;
  • Artistic works;
  • Cinematograph works;
  • Sound recording; and
  • Broadcasts


For it to be eligible for protection, the work must be sufficiently original and must be in a form that is expressed e.g. in writing, a painting, a musical recording, etc. You can’t have copyright protection over something in your head, which has not been expressed. Originality and expression are the key pillars for eligibility.

The rights enjoyed by the owner of the Copyright are limited. The author of a work does not own his Copyright indefinitely. The author of a musical work enjoys copyright throughout his lifetime and for 70 years after his death.  


Do you need to register a Music Copyright?

It should be noted that registering for copyright is not a precondition for protection. You do not have to register your copyright. It subsists automatically in a work from the moment the work is created. The NCC justifies the establishment of this scheme based on the following benefits:

  • It provides an independent source of verifying data relating to a work or its author to the general public;
  • The acknowledgment certificate issued provides prima facie evidence of the facts shown on it;
  • It provides a depository for preserving original copies of works notified;
  • The information and data contained in the Notification database offer reliable rights management information to members of the public and prospective licensees to the work.



The Benefits of Copyright Registration

While copyright is automatically granted upon creation, registering your music provides several advantages:

  1. Concrete Proof: Registration offers tangible evidence of your ownership, simplifying the process if you need to prove your rights in a legal dispute.
  2. Increased Damages: In legal cases, registered copyrights often lead to higher damages and compensation for the copyright owner.
  3. Global Recognition: Copyright registration extends your protection internationally, allowing you to enforce your rights beyond Nigeria's borders.
  4. Licensing and Royalty Collection: Registration can enhance your ability to license your music and collect royalties through CMOs.
  5. Deterrence: The presence of a registered copyright can discourage potential infringers, as it signals your commitment to protecting your work.



Steps on How to Copyright Music in Nigeria:

You can register a copyright with the NCC by submitting a completed registration form, along with two (2) copies of the work, and evidence of payment of the prescribed fee. Registration can be done online or physically at the NCC office.

Normally, each work should have its own copyright registration. However, someone may register works as a collection on one copyright with one title for the entire collection, as in the case of a music album with several songs. 

The steps are highlighted below;  

  1. Create Your Music: The first step to copyrighting your music is, of course, to create it. Whether it's a catchy melody, thought-provoking lyrics, or a heart-pounding beat, your composition must be original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
  2. Document Your Work: Before you can copyright your music, you need to document it. This can be done through sheet music, audio recordings, or written lyrics. Fixation provides the tangible form required for copyright protection. 
  3. Understand Automatic Copyright: In Nigeria, copyright is granted automatically upon the creation and fixation of your music. You don't need to register your work for it to be protected. However, registration provides additional benefits, as we'll discuss later. 
  4. Ownership and Collaboration: If you collaborate with others in creating your music, it's essential to establish clear ownership rights. Contracts and agreements should outline who owns the copyright and how any royalties will be split. 
  5. Keep Records: Maintain detailed records of your creative process, including drafts, notes, and communication related to your music. This documentation can be valuable if you ever need to prove your ownership. 
  6. Registration (Optional but Recommended): While copyright protection is automatic, registering your music with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) is advisable. Registration serves as concrete evidence of your ownership and can simplify legal proceedings in case of infringement. 
  7. Licensing and Royalty Collection: To monetize your music, explore licensing opportunities. Consider registering with a CMO to facilitate the collection of royalties from performances, broadcasts, and digital platforms. Licensing your music for various uses can create diverse income streams.



What to Do in Case of Copyright Infringement

If you believe someone has used your music without permission, take these steps:

  1. Gather Evidence: Collect proof of the infringement, such as recordings, documents, or correspondence.
  2. Consult Legal Advice: Seek legal counsel to evaluate the situation and guide you through the next steps.
  3. Cease and Desist Letter: Your lawyer may send a cease and desist letter to the infringing party, demanding they stop using your music.
  4. Legal Action: If necessary, you can pursue legal action, seeking damages and an injunction to halt the unauthorized use.



Copyrighting your music in Nigeria is a crucial step in protecting your creative endeavors and ensuring that you receive the recognition and compensation you deserve. While copyright is granted automatically upon creation, registering your music provides numerous benefits, from concrete proof of ownership to enhanced licensing opportunities.

Understanding copyright law and the steps to protect your music is essential for every artist navigating the dynamic and inspiring world of Nigerian music. So, create, document, and copyright your music—it's your key to safeguarding your artistry in the ever-evolving music industry.  




Need Assistance with Music Copyright Registration? We Can Help.

While it's possible to copyright music on your own, it can be a complicated process when it's challenging to understand copyright laws. Let 1710Media help you sort through the red tape and handle all your music copyright needs.


Register and protect music from theft and plagiarism

1710Media provides the fastest and most affordable way for you to protect your copyrights. Our Music Copyright Service includes the preparation, review, e-filing with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), and handling of correspondence until you receive your certificates of registration.

  • We'll file your application with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
  • Our service includes the preparation, review, e-filing, and delivery of your certificate of registration.
  • Receive an Official Copyright Certificate. Valid for your lifetime plus a minimum of 50 years after.
  • Register your songs, albums, compositions, beats, lyrics, music videos, artworks, and other musical projects.
  • Enjoy protection in Nigeria and 178+ other territories.

Get Started Now!



Join Our Newsletter

Join thousands of subscribers and get new posts, insights and Offers delivered to your inbox.

Newsletter blog

24/7 Hours Support at +234-706-919-9522.

With a vast amount of industry experience, contacts, and knowledge; we are passionate about helping you reach your goals, elevating your story, and achieving the highest levels of success for you and your project.

Join Our Newsletter

Join thousands of subscribers and get new posts, insights and Offers delivered to your inbox.

Subscription Form new