The Legal Framework for Music and Movies Production in Nigeria

By Ilepe Oluwatimileyin V.

Legal aspects of Music and movies production in Nigeria


Have you ever pondered whether there is a legal structure regulating and streamlining the production of music and movies in Nigeria?

According to a Latin marxim, “Lex erit omnium agris” which means “The law applies to all fields*”. It is my interest to note that there are bodies legally created and statutorily mandated to censure and review the contents of music and movies especially those that contradict or collide with ethical, cultural, legal and intellectual property requirements and norms in Nigeria.

This piece seeks to examine the role of law in regulating contemporary music and movies industries in Nigeria to ensure its compatibility with ethical, legal and cultural norms. It also examines how these statutory bodies can discharge their duties in order to ensure the appropriateness of music and movies content for the benefit of the Nigerian society.


According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, Music is defined as the “science or art of ordering tones and sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition of unity and continuity. It is a vocal instrumental or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody or harmony choral music piano music recorded music.”

Movie on the other hand refers to the recording of moving images that tells a story that can be watched on a screen or television.

Various combination of sounds have evolved — all over the world — into recognized genres of literature that send out various  kinds of messages ranging from love, peace, freedom to violence, anger. Movies and Music have played cogent roles in providing nonviolent basis for the attainment of sustainable development, peace and smooth running of Nigeria. For instance, in Nigeria,musicians over the years have used music to criticise government actions and programmes and have in the process sensitized the public to the stumbling blocks of sustainable development in the country.

The impact of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s” Beast of No Nation”and “International Thief-Thief” and Eedris Abdulkareem’s”Nigeria Jaga Jaga”, Kunle Afolayan’s”October 1st”, Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi’s” Half of a yellow sun” and Adonaijah Owiriwa and Izu Ojukwu’s 76 has contributed to the development of the country Nigeria.

Reform messages are transmitted through a chain that begins with  lyrics by the musician,beats from the producers;review by the regulatory body who approves it; approved by the media houses who airs it; acceptance by the corporate bodies who endorse it and use music in their brands; the parents and guardians of the youths who condone it; the religious body who do not preach against it; and finally the youth who enjoy it.

Law provides a normative framework  for enforcing appropriation content in music and movies production. The laws of any society do not only stand to set up legal ethics, but also to safeguard the society in which the law operate. The influence of music and movies in Nigeria emphasizes the important role of law in adequately regulating the contents of what is produced and disseminated to ensure appropriation.

Where a song fails to provide positive or meaningful content, it behoves on the various regulating bodies,stakeholders and the society at large to censor as such songs and rejects such musical and movie productions in order to ensure sustainable development in the character of the youth. 

While appreciating movies and music artistes who have helped carve the society in dimensions that made the society economically, politically morally better such as “Nigeria Unite” by King Sunny Ade, “Wait for me” by King Sunny Ade and Onyeka Onwenu ,”Message to the Youth” by Evi Edna Ogoli,”October 1st” by Kunle Afolayan and Half of a yellow sun by Chimamanda Adichie  Ngozi.

However in recent times, most of trending musicians and actors have increased contents that are inappropriate and incompatible with the normative, ethical and legal requirements in Nigeria.

The Legal Framework for Music and Movies Production in Nigeria 

 Legal systems have a function to secure justice. Section 39(1) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that:

“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold the opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

This fundamental right provide the platform, pursuant to which musicians produce their songs, is however regulated by other necessary and ancilliary statutory provisions,principles of natural justice,equity and good conscience. Section 45 provides for restriction of and derogation from such right in interest of defence,public safety,public order,public morality or public health or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons.

The following are legal frameworks regulating the production of music and movies in Nigeria.

1. National Broadcasting Commission( N.B.C.)

2.  The National Film and Video Censors Board( N.F.V.C.B.)

3.  The Nigerian Copyright Commission(N.C.C.)

4. The National Film Corporation Act.

1. The National Broadcasting Commission(N.B.C.).

This is an establishment of the federal government empowered to regulate the broadcasting industry as seen in Section 1 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act. It is a body responsible for undertaking research and development in the broadcast industry,upholding the principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting movies and music accros Nigeria. This body advises the federal government on the implementation of the national mass communication policy with reference to broadcasting. The Act establishing this body doesn’t cover other sources of music and movies which can be accused by the youths in terms of internet or foreign outlet of such music or movies. The main role of this body is to strengthen musicians,actors, music and film producers for better service delivery.

2. The National Film and Videos Censors Board (N.F.V.C.B).

This body is governed by the National Film and Video Censors Board Act as signified in Section 1(1) of the N.F.V.C.B. Act which set out number of various infringements that includes distribution and exhibition of unapproved films and videos,forging of board certificates, distribution of pornographic films, broadcasting unapproved video works and satellite operators, exhibition of films with restrictions to under age persons,inter alia. The board provides a list of acts which results in offences against the Act such as piracy,altering already approved films or videos works,posters and promos. This infringements may result in arrest and prosecution of offenders as expressed in the case of Adewale Joseph v. NFVCB- FHC Kaduna, Kingawa Ltd v. NFVCB,Onyeka Orajiaka &12 ors v. NFVCB&Anor,C.O.P v. Ugonma Charles ,C.O.P v. Uche Andy,Chibuzor Obiajunwa v. Cheif Sunny Collins Nwatu &NFVCB,C.O.P v. Nura Adewale &ors.

3.  Nigerian Copyrights Commission( N.C.C.)

This is also another legal framework regulating the production of movies and music in Nigeria. Section 34 of the Nigerian Copyrights Commission Act establishes the Commission for the dissemination of copyright knowledge, efficient administration and protection of rights. This body safeguard the intellectual property of musicians and actors and their producers and directors to ensure that credit is given to the right owners. See the case of Nigerian Copyrights Commission v. Stanley Nwankwo 55 NIPJD ( FHC 2012)ABJ/CR/14/2011, Nigerian Copyrights Commission v. Eze Igwe 55 NIPJD (FHC 2013) ABJ/CR/93/2012 and Nigerian Copyrights Commission v. Nwore Anayo 55 NIPJD (FHC 2012)ABJ/CR/10/2012.

4. Nigerian Film Corporation Act

It is an act to establish the Nigerian film corporation to be charged with the responsibility for the development of the film industry in Nigeria, produce films both for domestic consumption and for export and to encourage local talents by way of training, financial support and other related matters.

Hence, while the NBC and the NFVCB deals with content and output of music and movies, the NCC is concerned with the copyright regulation and safeguard of financial gain for the musicians, actors, producers, directors and marketers 

Recommendations and Conclusion:

The relationship between law and music cannot be overemphasized. Although, law regulates activities between music and movies,law cannot solely help regulate the appropriateness of music and videos. Everyone has an important part to play in ensuring that movies and music contribute to the development and advancement of Nigeria.

This article has established and explained the various legal framework of government and how they contribute to the development and advancement of music and movies in Nigeria.


Ilepe is a 200 level student of the Faculty of law, University of Ibadan.  09068493798.

1 thought on “The Legal Framework for Music and Movies Production in Nigeria

  1. National Film and Video Censors Board has woefully failed in its responsibilities. Nigerian film/video practitioners, most especially those in Lagos, are exceptionally IMMORAL and most of their films are devilishly immoral to personal minds, body and to public decorum in violation of Section 45 of the Constitution of the FRN, 1999, as amended.
    Something drastic MUST be done by a responsible government. Lagos State Government and Federal Government, I rest my case.

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