Okafor's Law

After two years of back and forth over the copyright of the Nollywood movie Okafor’s Law, the Federal High Court, on May 2nd, gave its final verdict, giving Omoni Oboli the legal right over the movie and script.

Following the ruling, Chioma Onyewne of Ranconteur Production who claimed ownership rights of the script whilst accusing Omoni Oboli of stealing her ideas, has expressed how dissatisfied she is with the development.

She took to her Twitter page to talk about why she took Omoni Oboli and Filmone to court over intellectual property violations, arguing that her work was stolen by the popular Nollywood actress.

Copyright isn’t ascribed to ideas: According to Onyewne, Copyright cannot be ascribed to a mere idea, but rather to an expression of an idea i.e written work such as a screenplay, a book, and even this write up! Two people can have a similar idea and even discuss it. At the end of the day, however, their expressions of the idea will differ.

She stated that Omoni Oboli gained unauthorised access to her work without paying or having any agreement.

She continued that Omoni claimed to have written a screenplay for the film in 2016, even though she (Oboli), could not show any rough drafts, treatments, or even tender her written script to the court.

She further said while in court they provided a copy of the screenplay written by Jude Idada, accompanied with the Canadian Guild of Writers copyright registration dated January 2015 with an analysis of both screenplays as well as the screenplay purchase agreement between Raconteur Productions (her company) and Jude (the screenwriter) in which he assigned the copyright in his screenplay to her to enable her produce a film adaptation of same.

How Omoni got access to the script? Onyenwe disclosed further that she earlier shared her screenplay with Filmone in a bid to co-produce with them in 2015 until they terminated the contract. This is the basis of her suspicion that Filmone must have sold the idea to Omoni Oboli.

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She noted that she is of the view that Filmone felt that Omoni was a more commercially viable producer and shared her screenplay that was in their possession with her. It is no secret that a good number of production companies look at the commercial advantage before deciding who to partner with.

She went on to blast the ruling: According to Onyenwe, the court verdict is a dent on Copyright and Intellectual property law in Nigeria. Summarising the judgement of the court, she wrote:

“Summary of the judgement: With regard to the issue of copyright infringement, the Court noted that having gone through all the pleadings and evidence adduced by both parties, the plaintiff had no copyright to be infringed upon. The judge noted that the plaintiff had admitted in its evidence and upon cross-examination of its witnesses that Jude Idada was contracted by the Defendant to write the script for a fee. The judge also stated that on cross examination, the plaintiff admitted that they heard of the social myth ‘Okafor’s law’ for the first time during Jude Idada’s meeting with Omoni Oboli. The learned judge quoted authorities to the effect that where evidence given by one party is uncontroverted by the other party which had the opportunity to do so, it can be relied upon. The court noted that through all the evidence of the witnesses and even on cross examination, the plaintiff did not show that they had copyright to the work ‘Okafor’s Law’; nor did any evidence adduced by them show infringement of same. The judge came to the conclusion that there is no copyright, and thus, no infringement of same. The issue was thus decided in favour of the Defendants.”

Onyenwe declares to keep fighting until she gets her justice: According to Onyenwe, from the judgement of the court,  the statements she and Jude made to the court were ignored just as all the evidence they presented were not considered.

She continued that she is worried how the court reached their conclusion without including their statements and evidence into consideration.

She further continued she isn’t giving up on the matter until she finds her justice, imploring on the media to help her achieve her aim.

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