Digital technologies and devices have offered new opportunities for cultural entrepreneurs and challenged the applicability of legal regulations in many ways. This project examines the problem-solving ability of copyright in dealing with the daily practices of artistic creation, with a focus on Nigerian music.

Copyright is generally studied from the perspective of its applicability and enforcement. International copyright law, with its concept of the exclusive property of an identifiable owner, is a market economy institution. It promotes the judicialisation of creativity, involving expensive bureaucratic procedures and furthering the commercialisation of cultural products. Different from this approach and with a focus on Nigerian popular music, this project studies how cultural entrepreneurs deal with legal regulations and what solutions they have found to sustain their activities. It examines copyright from the perspective of the daily practice of artistic creativity, which in many ways appears more complex and varied than what copyright law provides for. It is interested in the blurring and grey areas that are conceptually under-theorised and only partially covered and defined by law. These include questions of determining similarity and originality; exclusive property, unowned and common cultural goods; as well as the widespread artistic practices of imitation, quoting, recombining, sampling, and improvisation. The project also examines the institutional environment in which cultural entrepreneurs work together with other stakeholders in the cultural industry who are often involved in advising politicians and lawmakers. To understand the specific situation for cultural entrepreneurs in Nigeria it will be important to be aware of national differences in the recent adjustments and implementations of copyright law to cope with digital transformations, and the travelling of cultural products into other legal spaces by digital means and migration.


The project works primarily with ethnographic methods, including interviews with individuals and groups and participant observation, by paying special attention to the perspective of the cultural actors in the field of Nigerian popular music and their perception of copyright law. These methods are supplemented by the analysis of digital content and legal regulations. Discussions in interdisciplinary workshops and conferences will contribute to the conceptual clarification and comprehension of under-theorised areas of study related to copyright regulations.


Ute Röschenthaler obituary

We mourn the loss of our esteemed colleague and friend, Prof Dr Ute Röschenthaler, who passed away unexpectedly on 18 March 2024. As an internationally renowned specialist in cultural entrepreneurship, intellectual property and cultural mobility, Ute Röschenthaler played a key...

Keynote Lecture by Prof. Dr. Martin Kretschmer

On 21 September, 2022, 4:30-6.00 p.m., Prof. Dr. Martin Kretschmer (CREATe, University of Glasgow)  will give a public lecture on “Copyright and Non-Use” in the context of the expert workshop “Copyright, CARE and African Music Archives” at Mainz University. Abstract: ...

Workshop “Copyright, CARE and African Music Archives”

On 21 and 22 September 2022, CEDITRAA member Ute Röschenthaler and affiliate Hauke Dorsch act as co-convenors of an international workshop entitled “Copyright, CARE and African Music Archives: Tensions between Artists’ Interests and the Repatriation of Music” in Mainz. The...

Workshop “Popular Music Production and Regulation Online”

From 14 to 15 July 2022, Alexander Peukert, associated CEDITRAA member, Goethe University Frankfurt, and CEDITRAA member Ute Röschenthaler organise an interdisciplinary workshop “Comparative Perspectives on Popular Music Production and Regulation Online”. The workshop brings together international scholars to discuss...

Conference on Bureaucra­tisation in Dakar

From 17-19 June 2021, the IHA-CREPOS research programme „La bureaucratisation des sociétés africaines” held an international conference entitled “Art, Culture, Creation: Des Pratiques (Anti)Bureaucratiques?” in the venues Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Institut Confucius and Maison des cultures urbaines de Ouakam,...