Law is a body of rules and regulations that govern social, business, and other conducts to promote well being of the people, order and good governance in a given body or state. It rewards those who comply with its provisions and punishes offenders. The law is usually set by an authority, ruler or sovereign person or body, to be administered in a given state, place or organization.
Law can be viewed in the context of what to do in any given circumstance, and what not to do. The law is always enforced, otherwise it is meaningless. It stipulates penalties for offenders. If you breach it, you are punished or sanctioned. Enforcement is the responsibility of some professionals or bodies such as the law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary; that is in the broadest sense.
Law operates in every aspect of life and the society at large. The constitution of any country or organization stipulates how it should operate, and how its citizens or members should be governed. Professional bodies have laws that govern how its members should operate. These laws are called ethics. In media houses, it is called “editorial policy,” in corporate organizations it is called “code of business conduct.” The essence of law is to guide social conduct; to guide the way we relate with one another; to guide the way we do business; to guide the way we are governed; to guide the way we marry.
The law takes care of various relationships. Business Law guides the conduct of business and commercial transactions; Criminal Law takes care of crime and punishment; the Copyright Law protects our intellectual property; the Law of Torts take care of personal offences as battery and assault; while Family Law governs marriage, inheritance and family matters.
If you are ignorant of the law, people and organizations will always take advantage of you, cheat you, and take you for granted, or even take forcefully from you, what rightly belongs to you. This is the plight of many Nigerian citizens, as law enforcement agents and the rich marginalize them. But if you know the law, it means you know your rights because law confers rights on those it governs. And when you know your rights, you are empowered.
Law takes care of every aspect of the way we relate, work and live. These laws are clearly stated in our statute books and constitution for state matters. If there is any conflict, the aggrieved party can seek redress in the courts. Justice is the word that sums up the administration of the law. In doing this there is division of labour. For state matters, the legislature makes the law; the executive executes the law; while the judiciary interprets the law And so law sets the boundaries for order and good conduct, guides the ways we relate and do business. The whole essence is maintain order and good governance otherwise there will always be breach of peace; insecurity of lives and property; and confusion. The law also confers rights on people to promote prosperity and social engineering.
Let us illustrate this with the Copyright Law which confers intellectual property rights on creators of artistic works and inventions. These are rights conferred by statutes on an individual or a corporate body with respect to the product of his or her intellect, guaranteeing the exclusive control of the exploitation of his work for a limited period.
The object of protection here is usually “a work of the mind,” or human intellect. Basically, intellectual property covers two main branches namely, copyright and industrial property. Copyright deals primarily with literary, musical and artistic creations such as books, music, arts, films and broadcasts as well as live performances and expressions of folklore and most recently, a new genre of work in terms of multimedia production which is made accessible by a computer program. Industrial property on the other hand involves patents, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and appellations of origin, utility models, etc.
When intellectual property rights are protected, rights are conferred on their owners to enable them derive maximum benefits from the products of their labour and the opportunity to recoup their investment in terms of efforts, time, labor and money. Intellectual property rights protection plays a dominant role in provoking innovative, creative and inventive activities for the benefit of mankind. Intellectual property rights protection creates a conductive climate for transfer of technology through the security it offers to patent owners. It also serves as a means by which cultural values and traditions such as folklore are preserved.
In Nigeria, Intellectual Property Rights is governed by the Trademarks Act Cap. 436 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, the Patents and Designs Act Cap. 344 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and the Copyright Law Cap. 68 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. The Trademarks, Patents and Designs laws are currently implemented by the Trademarks, Patents and Designs Registry under the Federal Ministry of Commerce.
The protection of intellectual property rights encourages and stimulates the development of trade and commerce. Protection in all its ramifications creates wealth for the individual, corporate body concerned and the citizens through the payment of royalties, patent fees and the generation of foreign exchange. Nigerian citizens who learn to trade in London must be aware of the laws governing their earnings or they risk having to pay out more to the government than they rightfully should.
When a state, organization, or body sets rules and regulations to govern its members, it is promoting social engineering. This means the dynamics of operating systems and processes, how to live well, to prosper, to produce, create, relate, work and achieve. And so when used in the social context, it refers to how the society, and the way we work and live is organized and structured in good order, peace, and well being of all citizens. In doing this, the law provides the glue that binds every segment of the society into a harmonious whole. The law oils the machinery, dynamics and functioning of the society, government and organizations. If there is no law, there will be no order. This is what social engineering is all about.
Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com