Can Nollywood Acts Aki and Paw Paw Copyright Their Famous Video memes??

 Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki) and Osita Iheme (Pawpaw) first became popular with their 2002 comedy home video, Aki na Ukwa. Back in those days where the cinema culture was still uncommon Aki and Paw Paw littered DVD releases, starring in over 50 films and becoming nollywood household names. 

Now in 2019, they are now more famous than ever. How you ask? Well their old clips cut out from home videos have now become an internet sensation.

A thing called Meme.

What is a meme?

A meme according to Wikipedia is an image, video or a piece humorous in nature that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users often with slight variations.They are also regarded as the DNA of the soul because they are moments you see yourself in literally and deep down you can relate with it.

This type of content has now become an integral part of modern online life. with every Dick, Tom and Harry using in once it once in a while.

The first viral internet meme can be pinned back to a particular dancing baby that was spread around the internet and since then it has gone wild evolving with new media and pop culture references.

Baby Vintage GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Recently, Fenty which is a new beauty brand also made use of one of the twins viral meme and then a Nigerian twitter user with the handle Ezinne asked them to sorta pay for the use of this videos which begged the question can they copyright this memes?

So to get more perspective on copyright and if one can sue for illegal use of a face for a meme, we ask our online parent Daddy Google for answers.

Let’s just say what we found was not easy to understand.

Undented we reached out to Fawehinmi Oyinkansola  a.k.a  Foza Doza, a prominent entertainment lawyer who was kind enough to give us a good breakdown. Here read her perspective below.

The general copyright rule is that whoever creates the work is the owner. In the case of a film, the first owner of copyright is generally deemed to be the person or entity that made the arrangements for the making of the film, which could be the producer or a film production company as the case may be.

In a ‘work made for hire’ agreement, contributors to a film including actors, directors, set designers, and other crew members do not own any part of the end product. Therefore, the twins actors cannot copyright his video meme because the copyright to the whole film resides with the film production company.

Let’s pause a bit here. The summary of this is that if a video clip goes viral and used for commercial purposes, the owners (Production Company not the actors) can sue for copyright infringement.

However this is different from image right, Foza takes its from here.

Image rights are an individual’s proprietary right in their personality, and include the right to prevent unauthorized use of their name, physical or style characteristics, signatures, or slogans. This concept comes from the idea that each person should be able to control how his or her persona is commercialized. This is a great source of revenue for celebrities in the entertainment industry.

Osita Iheme is a Nigerian actor. He is widely known for playing the role of ‘Pawpaw’. His personality, pictures, slogans, and other characteristics are widely used especially on social media. His image and personality should not be used without his permission and without paying for its use. He can monetize his face being used for content. He is empowered to do so because his image rights are involved.

In summary folks, the popular actor cannot lay claim ( financially) to the video meme being used on social media but the production company can.

Big shout out to Fawehinmi Oyinkansola for her insights.


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