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1.1       Background to the Study

The capacity and ability to think critically, logically and analytically as well as generate novel ideas are among the legacies a university education bequeaths on its recipientsafter graduation. The purpose therefore for attaining university education is to produce creative and original thinkers who can contribute meaningfully to the development of the society (Babalola, 2012). However,beneficiaries (users) of information sources seem not to be aware of regulations guiding such usage, the legal implications,culpability and punishments as a result of infringements. The negative increase in academic copyright infringement is worrisome because it is eating deep into the fabric of university students and making the noble mission of university education a mirage. The act of piracy, violates people‘s intellectual property rights, undermines the principles of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and sense of responsibility. Furthermore, it devalues the integrity of academic qualifications and discourages creativity and uniqueness. 

The academic environment is a place where knowledge is shared, transferred and impactedthrough teaching and learning which must be done in accordance with basic rules, principles and standards. The basic rules areembedded in polices and rules which illustrate and create awareness.There is never a time than now to investigate students‘ awareness of copyright laws and what constitute copyright infringement, factors responsible for the prevalence of the practice in order to effectively combat it.

 Awareness refers to having knowledge of the existence of something; it is the state at which one is well informed about what is going on with regards to the point of interest. The level of awareness of the Nigerian copyright laws among undergraduate students in Nigerian tertiary institutions vary from one institution to the other. According to Isiakpona (2012), awareness of copyright laws by undergraduate students at University of Ibadan, was considerably high. Though awareness is high, the knowledge on what constitute infringement of the copyrightlaws is low. This is a similar view shared by Korletey and Tettey (2015) in their work on copyright awareness in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science in Ghana. Copyright infringement refers to the unauthorised use of copyrighted materials in a manner that violates owner‘s exclusive right. Infringement in this context includes piracy, plagiarism of text, indiscriminate photocopying, duplication of web pages, etc. (Isiakpona, 2012). The common copyright infringement by students in tertiary institutions is plagiarism.

Plagiarism could be described as the violation of copyright law to use all or any part of A‘s document, either verbatim or with trivial changes, in a document written by B, except as described in the section on fair use.

Piracy is also another means of infringement of copyright law. Piracy as opined by Thomas (1991) as cited by Okwilagwe (2001), is ―the unauthorised or illegal reproduction of the work of an author for sale without payment of royalty or other compensation to the owner of the intellectual property so exploited.‖

Several reasons have been adduced for the rising incidences of copyright infringement in the academia. The most popular is the ease with which information can be retrieved, manipulated and distributed on the Internet. The widespread use of the Internet among students has fostered the 'cut and paste' approach to research.  Young (2001) as cited in Babalola (2012), blame the anonymity of the web and the practice of 'downloading' music, software, games, etc. at no cost from the Internet to gradually erode the culture of attribution that is fundamental to academic research. Students generally have the misconception that the Internet is a free source for collecting information without acknowledging the author. The number of paper mills, websites that offer written term papers for a fee, has increased significantly with the advent of Internet technology. Other reasons for academic copyright infringement include lack of knowledge of rules for citation and referencing, inability to cope with workload and poor time management skills (James, McInnis and Devlin, 2002 as cited in Babalola 2012), pressure to succeed, lack of motivation to excel, laziness, cultural differences in learning and presentation styles and the availability and cheapness of the photocopier is a major factor (Babalola, 2012).

1.2        Statement of the Problem

All degrees awarded by the University on her graduates is as a result of fulfilling numerous requirements, one of which is a project which is approved on trust and certified because of its originality and contribution to knowledge.It is imperative therefore that the university produces great characters that are sound in mind and have the ability to be creative and imaginative, and adhere to the rule of law by respecting the works of others. This has been observed to be infringed upon.

When there is no copyright infringement, creativity and originality will blossom and flourish, this means the work of authors will be protected and royalty will be given to those who deserve and earn it. The growing presence of unauthorised reproduction of copyrighted products inhibits full potential growth and discourages creative activity especially among the youths who are the future.

 It is no news that copyright infringement is rife among students in Nigerian tertiary institutions. It is pathetic to see the level and comfortability at which this act is done; it has become a walk in the park. It is destroying the students by making them lazy, with no creative vision and not knowing the strength and depth of their inner minds.The presence of infringement discourages creativity and originality, because there is no protection for literal creation. This situation encourages laziness, forgery, lack of creativity, low self-esteem and mediocrity.Literature, both recent and past has established that copyright laws are very important for better creativity on the part of the authors and protection of intellectual content of their work (Isiakpona, 2012). However, it isnot certain if information users actually have a reasonable level of knowledge of these copyrightlaws as a means of protecting the intellectual creativity of respective authors. They might havereasonable level of knowledge of these but still infringe on the laws.It is also believed that in Nigeria, the copyright law is not as effective as expected since no propermechanism is put in place to curb infringement. 

Various forms of infringement are still practised ona reasonable scale in higher institution of learning despite the copyright laws. Preliminary investigation by the researcher reveals the following forms of copyright infringement in Ahmadu Bello University; plagiarism, duplication, copy and paste, downloading, photocopying, re-printing, piracy among many others.

The concern of this study therefore is to determine the level of awareness among undergraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria on the issue of copyright law andits infringement.

1.3 Research Questions

The following were the research questions set for this study:

i.       To what extent are undergraduates in Ahmadu Bello University aware of the provisions of the copyright law? ii.      What is the extent of copyright infringement of intellectual property by undergraduate students of ABU Zaria?

iii.             What are the major ways in which copyright laws are infringed upon by undergraduates of ABU Zaria?

iv.             What are the challenges to effective implementation of copyright laws in ABU Zaria?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The following are theobjectives of the study:

i.                 To determine the level of awareness of copyright laws among undergraduate students of ABU Zaria.

ii.               To assess the level of copyright infringement of intellectual property by theundergraduate students of ABU.

iii.             To determine the major ways in which copyright laws are being infringed upon among undergraduate students of ABU Zaria?

iv.             To determine the challenges to effective implementation of copyright laws in ABU


1.5Significance of the Study

Copyright infringement is a serious problem in Nigeria. The threat posed by copyright infringement among undergraduate students is a thing of concern. Copyright infringement has profound consequences not only for the one whose work is being debased and abused but also for the perpetrators of such act, who in this case are young undergraduates who are expected to come up with great ideas that will address modern problems in the society and also serve as a bedrock for the development of future generation. 

This study is of great significance to authorities and law enforcement agents as it gives an insight to the activities of students, awareness as well as the level of copyright infringement taking place in ABU Zaria.  It is also of great significance to the National Universities Commission and the School‘s governing body to know what is going on and to come up with possible solution that will reduce and discourage perpetrators. The findings of this study can also be used to generalize on the universities in the North-West zone. 

This work is also of great significance as it will add to knowledge, help in further research and also serve as literature now and in the future. The study will also serve as an eye opener or enlightenment to those students who are actually unaware or ignorant of the copyright law or how their activities infringe on the law.

Taking a cursory look at the negativities attached to such an act, it is of great concern that creativity is giving way to mediocrity in such a challenging and competitive era where knowledge is the driving force of every form of development, as such, this research is


1.6Scope and Delimitation

Thisstudy covered only theundergraduate students of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. It lookedinto the level of awareness of copyright provisions in Nigeria, the level of infringement and the provision of copyright law among the undergraduate students of ABU. This study covered both the Samaru and Congo campuses with respect to its 2015 undergraduate population.

1.7 Operational Definitions of Terms

The following terms were operationally defined thus:

Awareness: Conscious or mindfulof copyright laws.

Copyright:The right which an author or creator of original ideas, expressions, words drawings or works has over everyone for the duration of his life time.

Copyright Law:  The legal device that gives the creators of original ideas, expressions, words, or works the sole right to publish and sell such works.

 Copyright Infringement:  The unauthorised use of ideas, expressions or works under copyright.


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Isiakpona, C. D. (2012).Undergraduate Students' Perception of Copyright Infringement: A Case Study of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria" (2012).Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal).Paper 689.

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School of Postgraduate Studies (2011).Students‘ Handbook 2011. Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press Ltd. p43-53.

(, retrieved, March 20th,2012).

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