Sanctions for copyright infringement in relation to the film industry in developing economies: Nigeria as a case study

  • Nkem Itanyi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


UNESCO recently released the first complete mapping of the film and audio-visual industry in 54 states of the African continent. This included quantitative and qualitative data and an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses at the continental and regional levels. According to this report, the production and distribution of film and audio-visual works in Africa is one of the most dynamic growth sectors in the world. UNESCO has recommended Nigeria’s ‘Nollywood Model’ as one that can help other African countries build fully home-grown, self-sustaining commercial industries. This model is characterised by its low-cost, speedy production mode, which enables producers to complete a film for as low as US$15,000 in a matter of weeks.

While filmmaking in Nigeria is as old as the inception of Nigeria as a British colony, this thesis is specifically concerned with the Nollywood Period, from 1992 to the present, which witnessed the emergence of the Nigerian movie industry in the twenty-first century. Since 2009, Nollywood films have continuously thrived in Nigerian cinemas in terms of quantity and quality. However, the success of the industry does not necessarily equate to profits for the major stakeholders in the industry.

This thesis sets out to investigate the reasons for this. An examination of the existing primary and secondary sources on the institutional and evolutional history of filmmaking in Nigeria revealed gaps in the narrative of the legislative history of the film industry as well as in the matrix of legal protection and support for contemporary filmmakers. Drawing on the testimonies and accounts of historians, policymakers and law academics in the copyright and film industry, I provide answers to these gaps.

Much of my thesis is socio-legal; using a multi-perspective approach, it provides an empirical contribution to the discussion of the dominant question of piracy in the film industry in Nigeria. It examines the trends and was carried out across sectors, spread across the industry, regulators, and stakeholders. It also includes discussions on a lack of infrastructure, structure, and a Nigerian IP policy. My research is carried out across the Nigerian value chain, across time, and in different contexts, looking at different cultural and societal conceptualities on piracy. My research provides an empirical contribution to the discussion of piracy in Nigeria in ways that had not been previously done. As such, my research is unique – it provides the first empirical research on piracy in Nigerian copyright law.

Thesis embargoed until 31st July 2026.

Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsThe Tertiary Education Trust Fund
SupervisorBilly Melo Araujo (Supervisor) & Ronagh McQuigg (Supervisor)


  • Intellectual property law
  • copyright
  • Nigeria
  • film industry
  • infringement

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