By Adeleye Joan
AN APPRAISAL OF OLADIPO YEMITAN V DAILY NEWSPAPER & Anor. ([1977-1989] 2 IPLR 141-156)
The case of Oladipo Yemitan v Daily Newspaper & anor is a landmark case in intellectual property law. The case majorly dealt on copyright infringement, the enforcement of copyright and originality of literal works. This article aims to explain the case, dissecting the issues, the judgement, and its significance in the intellectual property world.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In Oladipo Yemitan v. The Daily Times (Nigeria)Ltd &Anor, the defendants flagrantly infringed on the claimant’s copyright in an article titled ‘The Day the Lagoon Caught Fire’ published in the Nigerian Magazine by reproducing same verbatim in the ‘Headlines’ No 52 of 1977 without consent.
Upon writing to notify the defendants of this infringement, the defendants merely replied that they would investigate the allegation and did nothing further despite subsequent correspondence to them. After the trial, the defendants admitted the infringement.
The court was of the view that the defendants took advantage of the claimant because few persons in the Nigeria were aware of their rights under copyright law and the defendants also believed that the profit to be realized from the infringement would outweigh any nominal damages the claimant may be entitled to.
The flagrant infringement, the indifferent manner the letters written were treated, the nonchalant attitude of the defendants and the way the defense was prepared by denying obvious facts, making unfounded assertions and only admitting the infringement after a full trial, all convinced the court that the defendants should pay additional damages.
The court granted additional damages to the claimant, on the grounds that the defendant took advantage of the claimant. The court held that copyright in a work belongs to the author who is the one that actually expended the work, labour, knowledge and skill.
By virtue of s.36 particularly (c)of Copyright Act 2022 which provides for copyright infringement summarily provides that an infringement occurs when any person without authorization copies another’s article, distributes by ways of trade, offers for sale, hire etc. S.37 provides for an action for infringement of copyright where one can enforce such right through civil proceedings or criminal proceedings, however such work must be eligible for copyright see s.2.
On the issue of originality copyright basically means that a creative work must be created by the author and not copied from someone else’s work it must contain the element of skill, labour and judgement Lord Atkinson referred in a decision of a supreme court of the United states “that the product of the application of one’s skill labour and judgement is one’s original work”.
In essence, Yemitan v Daily Newspaper and Anor remains a cornerstone case, influencing people’s right under copyright law, originality and copyright infringement. Knowing your rights under copyright is crucial. It helps protect your work, ensures proper credit, controls its use, and prevents unauthorized sharing or copying. Understanding these rights safeguards your creativity and intellectual property. It makes you aware of your rights under copyright and ensures no one takes advantage of your intellectual property.
Adeleye Joan is a law student at Caleb University. She aspires to make a positive impact in the legal world by contributing to discourses on various legal topics. Joan is committed to continuous learning, personal growth, and growing together with colleagues in this journey of law.