The general principles are reflected in art-27 of the universal declaration of human rights:

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community to enjoy the arts and share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  2. Everyone has the right to protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”[1]


Sections13 deals with the subject matter of copyright.

Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

(1) Literary works;

(2) Musical works, including any accompanying words;

(3) Dramatic works, including any accompanying music;

(4) Pantomimes and choreographic works;

(5) Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;

(6) Motion pictures and other audio-visual works;

(7) Sound recordings; and

(8) Architectural works.[2]


GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF COPYRIGHT(a) In any cinematograph film if a substantial part of the film is an infringement of the copyright in any other work;

(b) In any sound recording made in respect of a literary, dramatic, or musical work, if in making the sound recording, copyright in such work has been infringed.

The copyright in a cinematograph film or a sound recording shall not affect the separate copyright in any work in respect of which or a subtending.’ part of which, the film, or as the case may be, the sound recording is made.

In the case of a work of architecture, copyright shall subsist only in the artistic character and design and shall not extend to processes or methods of construction.[3]


Different time limits apply to copyright in different formats. The most common are listed below.

Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

If the work is of unknown authorship, copyright expires at the end of a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which it is first made available to the public.

Computer-generated works and films are protected for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which they were first released.

Sound recordings and broadcasts are protected for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which they were first released.[4]

Limitations and exceptions to copyright

Limitations and exceptions to copyright [5]are provisions in copyright law that allow for copyrighted works to be used without a license from the copyright owner. The scope of copyright limitations and exceptions became a subject of matter of controversy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in various nations. It is largely due to the impact of digital technology, there are various changes in national copyright legislation for compliance with TRIPS, and there is various enactment of anti-circumvention rules in response to the WIPO Copyright Treaty. It is becoming increasingly a topic of political debate. The Limitations and exceptions are also the subjects of significant regulation by global treaties. These treaties are harmonized the exclusive rights which must be provided by copyright laws, and the Berne three-step test operates to constrain the kinds of copyright exceptions and limitations which individual nations can enact. There are some important examples of limitations and exceptions to copyright two of them are the fair use doctrine found in the United States, and the fair dealing doctrine found in many other common law countries. There are various fundamental boundaries of copyright which are caused by thresholds of originality, a threshold below which objects cease to be copyrightable.

“Article 10Limitations and Exceptions

(1) Contracting Parties may, in their national legislation, provide for limitations of or exceptions to the rights granted to authors of literary and artistic works under this Treaty in certain special cases that do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

(2) Contracting Parties shall, when applying the Berne Convention, confine any limitations of or exceptions to rights provided for therein to certain special cases that do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.” 


There are exceptions to the exclusive rights enjoyed by owners of copyright in literary, dramatic, and musical works.

There is no copyright infringement if:

1  obtain permission from the copyright owner;

  1. The copyright is owned by the University;
  2. The material has been supplied to the University with a license to copy;

the proposed copying and/or communication falls within provisions in the Copyright Act that allow ‘insubstantial amounts’ of copying without payment; or

The copying is covered by the statutory license; by this license universities pay creators, through Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), for use of their copyright work.


Though copyright law provides a creator with several critical and powerful rights over their work, those rights are not unlimited. The law has always recognized the need to balance the rights of the copyright holder with the good of the public and provisions in the law have aimed to do exactly that.[6]

Maddox Smith

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