Navigating the New Nigerian Copyright Act of 2022

Implications for Freedom of Panorama and the Role of Librarians

This article discusses the implications of the New Nigerian Copyright Act on freedom of panorama. It provides an overview of the key provisions of the act and its stance on freedom of panorama, as well as the role of librarians in preserving and disseminating cultural heritage.


With the signing of the New Nigerian Copyright Act by the president in 2022, Nigeria took a significant step forward in its intellectual property landscape. Among the various amendments and updates, one point that drew a lot of attention was its position on “freedom of panorama.”  This provision has important implications for artists, photographers, and the general public. Furthermore, it emphasizes the critical role that librarians play in preserving and disseminating cultural heritage in the face of these changes.

Understanding Freedom of Panorama

Before delving into the implications of “freedom of panorama” in the New Nigerian Copyright Act of 2022, let us define “freedom of panorama.” This is the legal exception that allows individuals to capture and use images or recordings of public spaces, such as buildings and artworks, without seeking permission from copyright holders. It strikes a balance between protecting creators’ rights and allowing the general public to document and enjoy their surroundings.

The New Nigerian Copyright Act and Freedom of Panorama

The New Nigerian Copyright Act of 2022 includes a provision addressing freedom of panorama, and its stance is generally favorable to the public. Freedom of Panorama is limited to “the inclusion in an audiovisual work or a broadcast of an artistic work situated in a place where it can be viewed by the public” under Section 20(1)(e) of the new Copyright Act, with no mention of photographs or other 3D works like sculptures.

However, by Section 20(1) a-e, Photographs can be taken for private uses or non commercial educational and research purposes.

Individuals are generally allowed to capture and use images or recordings of public spaces, including copyrighted buildings and artworks, under this act as long as they are used for noncommercial, educational, and research purposes. This is a significant advancement because it clarifies and protects individuals who want to document and share their cultural experiences.

This differs from the repealed Copyright Act, Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which states that “The right conferred in respect of a work by section 5 of this Act does not include the right to control… the reproduction and distribution of copies of any artistic work permanently situated in a place where it can be viewed by the public.”

Key Provisions:

1. Non-Commercial Use: The act allows for the non-commercial use of copyrighted works in public spaces. This means that people are free to take and share photographs and recordings of public buildings and artworks as long as they are not used for commercial gain.

2. Attribution: While individuals are granted freedom of panorama, the act requires proper attribution to the creators of copyrighted works whenever possible. This ensures that the original creators are recognized for their contributions to public space.

3. Cultural Heritage Preservation: The act emphasizes the importance of preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage. It encourages institutions such as libraries and museums to actively document and protect public domain cultural works, making them accessible to the public.

The Role of Librarians in Preserving Freedom of Panorama

Librarians have long been champions of intellectual freedom, information access, and cultural heritage preservation. With the New Nigerian Copyright Act’s emphasis on freedom of expression, librarians play an even more important role in upholding these principles. Here are some ideas for how librarians can help:

1. Documentation and archiving: Librarians can actively participate in documenting and archiving public space photographs and recordings that highlight Nigeria’s cultural heritage. They ensure that future generations have access to a rich visual history by creating and curating collections of these materials.

2. Public Education: Librarians can educate the public on their rights and responsibilities under the New Nigerian Copyright Act. They can hold workshops, distribute resources, and raise awareness about panorama freedom, copyright, and attribution practices.

3. Advocacy and Copyright Compliance: Librarians can advocate for balanced copyright policies that protect both creators’ and the public’s interests. They can also assist people in navigating copyright issues and obtaining permissions for specific uses.

4. Encouragement of Creative Commons Licensing: Librarians can encourage creators to use Creative Commons licenses, which allow them to specify the terms under which their works can be used. This can facilitate the sharing of creative content while respecting the wishes of the creators.


Free Knowledge Africa organized its monthly webinar and invited Dr. Helen Chuma-Okoro a Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. She was the guest speaker who took a deep dive into the newly signed Nigerian Copyright Act and how it influences or affects Open sharing. You can watch the recording of the Webinar on YouTube

The provisions on freedom of panorama in the New Nigerian Copyright Act of 2022 are a positive step toward balancing copyright protection. The Copyright law is intended to encourage sharing while also ensuring that work owners benefit, and these concerns are addressed through licenses, exceptions, and limitations. One of such provision is the Freedom of Panorama, which establishes guidelines for how people can take and use certain works.

The Nigerian Act establishes a very narrow standard of Freedom of Panorama as an exception to copyright for audiovisuals only. Taking photographs of public buildings or permanently displayed works is thus illegal, unless done for private use, non commercial use or educational and research purposes.

Librarians also play a crucial role in ensuring that this balance is maintained. They could do this by preserving cultural heritage, educating the public, and advocating for responsible copyright practices.

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