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Interrogating Nigerian copyright law report 2019

By Abiodun Amuda-Kannike
13 October 2019   |   2:33 am
The desire and necessity for law reporting can be traced to the important doctrine called ‘judicial precedent’, which is the core aspect of Nigeria’s jurisprudence and it has become part of legal practice.

Title: Nigerian Copyright Law Report 2019 (NCLR) VOL 1
Author: Tonye Clinton Jaja
Pages: 172
Reviewer: Abiodun Amuda-Kannike

The desire and necessity for law reporting can be traced to the important doctrine called ‘judicial precedent’, which is the core aspect of Nigeria’s jurisprudence and it has become part of legal practice.

As a result of the need for courts to be consistent with their judgments and decisions based on previous authorities and decisions, the assemblage and documentations of the same in a permanent form becomes necessary in order to allow judges and lawyers to comfortably make reference to them.

The official publication started in Nigeria through the Nigerian law reports (N.L.R) published by the justice department commencing from 1910 and running up to 1956 when it was stopped because of the creation of regions in Nigerian then. There was the West African Court of Appeal Report (WACA), followed by the Federal Supreme Court Reports (FSC), which dealt with the decisions of 1956 and 1960 and All Nigeria Law Reports (ALL NLR) published in 1961 and up to the 1970s.

Officially, the judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (SC Reports) came alive during the tenure of Justice Teslim Elias, who was the Chief Justice of Nigeria. By the 80s, this same publication came to an end. Then came the time of Justice Muhammed Uwais, who gave Lai Babatunde (SAN) the permission to publish Supreme Court reports and the reports became a private publication and has continued till date.

With respect to commercial publications of Law reports, one cannot forget to mention, Nigerian Monthly Law Reports (NMLR), which was the first private Law report published as far back as 1964. Thereafter, there had been several Law reports published, such as, Federation of Nigeria Law Reports (FNLR), Supreme Court of Nigeria Judgments (SCNJ), Nigerian Supreme Court Cases (NSCC), Supreme Court Reports (SC), Federation Weekly Law Reports (FWLR), All Federation Weekly Law Report (All FWLR), Weekly Reports of Nigeria (WRN), Nigerian Weekly Law Reports, Legal Paedia and all other electronic law reports.

A book review is a thorough description, critical analysis, and/or evaluation of the quality meaning and significance of a book, often in relation to prior research on the topic. Reviews generally ranged from 500 to 1000 words, but may be longer or shorter depending on the length and complexity of the book being reviewed. The overall purpose is whether the review is a comparative analysis examining two or more books that focus on the same topic.

Professors assign book reviews as practice in carefully analysing complex scholarly texts and to assess your ability to effectively synthesise research so that you reach an informed perspective about a research problem or issue.A copyright is an intellectual property right granted by a government that gives the owner exclusive right to use, with some limited exceptions, original expressive work. Examples of materials entitled to copyright protection include, original works of fiction, non-fiction, music architectural designs, artistic paintings and sculptures.

Therefore, any work, which is created but does not fall within the above definition, cannot come under the protection of copyright. A Law report is a record of a judicial decision on a point of law, which sets a precedent. Not all decisions taken in a Court of Law set a precedent, however interesting they may be in terms of the facts of the case or its consequences. A decision is only reportable if it lays down a new principle of Law, or changes or clarifies the existing Law.

Furthermore, Law reports are series of books that contain judicial opinions from a selection of case Law decided by Courts. When a particular judicial opinion is referenced, the Law report series in which the opinion is printed will determine the case citation format.

The book title as could be seen is “Nigerian Copyright Law report, 2019 (NCLR). It is the volume one of the book that can be seen now, as other volumes will come up after this volume one, in order to make the opportunity of easy references and citations available to judges, lawyers and researchers/academicians.

The general subject area of this Law report is on Copyright Law reports, which generally dealt with cases that had been tried dealing with copyright and which judgment has been delivered by the courts in Nigeria.The scope of these law reports for now is limited to Nigerian cases, copyright cases, Court of Appeal cases and Supreme Court cases. The scope enables the author to concentrate on the areas with limited scope instead of adding those Copyright cases from the Lower Court or outside the country, which are usually limited in terms of usages as those authorities when cited are usually described as ‘persuasive authorities’ and not ‘binding authorities’ as far as hierarchy of courts are concerned and most especially, the ‘doctrine of judicial precedent.’

The structure of the law report is quite complex because this sort of review is a bit different from normal book review, because the review here has to do with ‘Law reports review’ even though Law reports are also classified in the copyright Law as ‘books’, in this situation, Law reports does not deal with chapters as in normal books, but Law reports has to do with the cases as reported one after the other.

Therefore, it is the way and manner the cases are reported that we shall take as if they are chapters by chapters.The author decided to round off the law reports by providing ‘Index’, which can be seen on pages 162-173 and the index were arranged in alphabetical orders — A, B, and C on pages 162 to165, D on pages 165 to 166, E-L from pages 166 to168, N-F on pages 169 to 171 and R-W on pages 171 to173.

There exist no author argument in the law reports. This is because it is a law report, different from books generally where the author’s opinion will be of significant importance, not withstanding that law reports themselves are books.A book is said to be a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together a long one side and bound in covers. It also refers to a bound set of blank sheets for writing in. A book is a number of pieces of paper, usually with words printed on them, which are fastened together and fixed inside a cover of stronger paper or cardboard. Books contain information, stories, or poetry.

Law reports, however, have to contain judicial opinions from a selection of case law decided by courts. These contain only judgments of the court and no author’s argument or thesis.

Accordingly, we can see that it is not possible in this book review of the law reports to authoritatively bring out the thesis/argument of the author as it use to be for other books. We would have been able to bring out the author’s thesis or argument even if the law reports contains any thesis or argument, even if it is a page or half a page.

The author was able to quickly introduce us to the ratio decidendi of the case, which he showed as dealing with category of person who have the locus standi to institute an action for copyright infringement.

The author, in publishing this law report, can be said to achieve his desired objective, which is to make copyright law reports to be specialised work on copyright alone and not to mix it with other areas of law. The author intention herein again is to make sure that lawyers, judges, students and researchers have easy access to this area of law reports.

It is the intention of the author too, to see that his Law reports forms an important, if not the best law reports in Nigeria. It is my opinion that this Law reports is a valuable contribution to knowledge especially in the area of copyrights.

In the law report as published, we have been able to see that the cases reported are six in total together with ‘index’ as could be seen herein.It is recommended that the author should identify those cases reported and the subject matters involved on the front cover page of the Law report because the reader will immediately find the information about the Law report in summary as itemised without even opening the Law reports.

It is also recommended that the author should also produce electronic versions of the Law report while the book format should also continue.We accordingly recommend this important Law reports, the first of its kind, for the reading public, most especially, the Judges, Lawyers, academicians and researchers. The few areas requiring corrections, as discovered in our review, are not new, when a book such as Law reports is produced, as there will always be continuous improvement when subsequent volumes are published, since, this is the volume one (1) of the Law reports.
Amuda-Kannike (SAN) is the Provost, College of Law, Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State