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Life Story Rights; The Movie ‘dark October’ The Storm Surrounding The Release, And The Legal Position

Life Story Rights; The Movie ‘dark October’ The Storm Surrounding The Release, And The Legal Position

Life Story Rights; The Movie ‘dark October’ The Storm Surrounding The Release, And The Legal Position.

By Oscar I. Okuma Esq 


Having been released on the 3rd day of February 2023, the Netflix Movie ‘DARK OCTOBER’ has raised quite a lot of dust in various social circles. Critics of the movie and families of the affected victims (the affected families), claim that the Netflix movie is an unauthorized representation of the ‘ALUU 4’ event. 

The ‘ALUU 4’ is an incident that occurred on the 5th day of October 2012 in Aluu, a community in Obio-Akpor LGA of Rivers state- where four students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) were stripped naked, beaten and set ablaze over an alleged robbery incident.

The main grouse against the Movie is that, the consent of the victims’ families were not obtained before its release. Some Critics claim that the lack of consent from the victims’ families entitles the affected families to damages from Linda Ikeji, the Movie’s producer and that the Movie should be suspended from Netflix.

This paper examines the position of the law with regard to Life Story Rights; whether the consent of the affected person or persons is needed and remedies available to an aggrieved person.


The representation of true live events in Movies, have been known to raise quite a number of controversies overtime. These controversies have led to the coining of the term ‘life story rights’. 

When people talk about “life story rights”, they usually refer to a loose cluster of potential claims that a person might assert when confronted with, say, a movie about themselves to which they object. Life Story Right is simply the right of an individual(s) affected by a life event to either consent or object to the production of a book, movie or screenplay portraying the said life event.

In Nigeria, the subject of a life story does not have any right recognized by law, to prevent or authorize the conversion of that story to a book, movie or screenplay. The absence of recognition of Life Story Rights in Nigeria would suggest that one doesn’t need consent to portray a Person’s Story in Nigeria.


Although there is no comprehensive Nigerian legislation that creates life story rights, some areas of law contain certain provisions which could accommodate an aggrieved person who claims his ‘life story right’ has been infringed upon. Areas of law like, constitutional law, tort and intellectual property ring a bell.

  • Constitutional Law

The Nigerian Constitution guarantees its citizens right to private and family life. Any infringement of this right as guaranteed by the Constitution entitles the affected individual to a remedy.

The concept of a ‘Life story Right’ is an acknowledgment that an individual(s) should have the right to control the production and distribution of events relating to his life, in any medium capable of being heard, viewed or read. One can argue that the Right to Privacy is the main fulcrum which the said concept rests on. By the above deduction, a person who claims that their ‘Life Story Right’ has been infringed upon, could bring an action for enforcement of his Constitutional right to a private and family life.

  • Tort 

Black’s Law Dictionary defines Tort as, a civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages. Generally, Tort is an act or omission that occasions an injury to another, which entitles the affected individual to a remedy.

The Tort of Defamation may avail someone who claims that his Life Story Right has been infringed upon. Defamation is the act of harming the reputation of another by making a false statement to a third person. The said false statement could either be a written or oral statement. 

An aggrieved person that is able to prove that another has made a false statement in the telling of his life story, with the intention to harm his reputation would be entitled to relief. However, Defamation is personal and dies with the affected person; the person’s estate cannot sustain an action against the publisher

  • Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law is a body of laws that governs all the relevant aspects (i.e. ownership, registration, protection, licensing, assignment, lifespan, etc.) of Intellectual Property rights. Intellectual Property Law comprises of the following branches: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks. However, Copyright is the only branch relevant to this discourse.

Copyright (or author’s right) is the exclusive right of the author of the original work to control or enable the doing of certain expressly stated acts in respect of the whole or substantial part of the work either in its original form or in any other recognizably derived from the original form but subject to certain statutory exceptions

It is the expression of ideas and concepts, and not the ideas or concepts themselves that Copyright protects. Therefore, Copyright cannot avail an Author until the work has been expressed in a medium capable of being perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated. In light of the above, an aggrieved person who has expressed events relating to his life in a definite medium could sue a producer who produces a movie from the said medium without prior consent. However, this only applies to the extent that the producer seeks to rely on the copyrighted work.


Although, Life Story Rights aren’t actually rights, Producers should be careful when producing a movie that reflects the events surrounding people’s private life. This is to avoid being hit with lawsuits. In order to be fully covered Producers are advised to enter into Life Story Agreements with persons whose life story they intend to produce. A Life Story Agreement is basically an agreement that portrays the consent of a person towards the reproduction of his life story. 


This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation ( funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International ( The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.


This publication is not a piece of legal advice. The opinion expressed in this publication is that of the author(s) and not necessarily the opinion of our organisation, staff and partners.


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