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Related rights in uncommon places: the right of performers during spiritual traditional festivals in contemporary Nigeria

Ayoyemi Lawal-Arowolo and Dorcas A Odunaike

Keywords: performers' rights; Nigeria; spiritual tradition; festivals; Copyright Act; Oro; Eyo; Osun Oshogbo

The birth and development of performers' rights was initially witnessed in the twentieth century. Domestic laws and international conventions were drafted and implemented in various countries and the international community. Nigeria has followed a similar trend in the development of performers' rights by providing provisions protecting these rights. Equally, Nigeria has signed and ratified international treaties providing for the protection of performers' rights. However, there are issues relating to performers' rights that have not been given consideration. A broader system of protecting traditional performances with spiritual and social components is required. Purely spiritual festivals such as the Oro festival is guided by custom which must not be disregarded as a means of protection. Only worshippers or devotees are allowed to be a part of the festival. Strangers and women are forbidden to see the procession and when or if they do, the consequences are grave. Conversely, the Eyo, Atilogwu, Tengra and Osun Oshogbo festivals are spiritual festivals with social components that are not rigidly protected by custom, neither are the performances considered for protection in related rights in Nigeria. Such performances are littered on the internet by those who attend the festivals from various parts of the world. While the extent to which performers are protected in the Copyright Act of Nigeria should be commended, more should be done.

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