Copyright Infringement: Court Sentences Bible Pirate To 2 Years Imprisonment

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One Chinonso Ugochukwu, found guilty on a two-count charge of selling infringing books, including Bibles, in which copyright subsists and being in possession of infringing books other than for private or domestic use has drawn two years jail term pronounced by the Federal High Court, Uyo.

In a judgement delivered on July 1, 2020 in charge No. FHC/UY/53C/15, Justice F. O. Riman convicted Ugochukwu of violation of sections 20(2) (a) and 20 (2)(c) of the Copyright Act, 2004 and sentenced him to one year imprisonment on each of the two counts with the option of fine.

The convict, who was arraigned on November 17, 2016, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charges and was diligently prosecuted by Emeka D. Ogbonna Esq and Alubo Inalegwu Esq for Nigerian Copyright Commission. The defence counsel was C I Odoh Esq.

Following investigation of a petition to the Commission by the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) dated June 18, 2014 alleging infringement of its works, the Uyo Office of the NCC had embarked on an anti-piracy operation on August 13, 2014 at Eket in which two shops belonging to the convict were raided and pirated Bibles and other infringing copyright-protected works were seized.

The Director-General of NCC, Mr. John O. Asein, in his remarks, indicated that Government was in the process of reviewing the Copyright Act to make penalties for copyright infringement more stringent to serve as effective deterrence to prospective pirates.

He reiterated the commitment of the Commission to proactive enforcement and diligent prosecution with a view to protecting the copyright of authors., stating further that the conviction of Ugochukwu signalled the Commission’s renewed drive in implementation of its zero tolerance policy against copyright piracy across the country.

He urged all copyright stakeholders to team up with the Commission to strengthen the national anti-piracy campaign geared at ridding the creative industry of the onslaught of piracy while ensuring that authors and right owners get gainful return on their investments.

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