True to its recent public statement that it has asked its lawyers to go on ‘rampage’ against all royalty defaulters and copyright infringers across the country, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to restrain the Federal Government owned Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) from further broadcast of music and sound recordings belonging to its members, affiliates or assignors on any of FRCN’s 42 radio stations across Nigeria until the full payment of all music copyright royalties due to COSON.
In the 33 paragraph statement of claim filed on May 5, 2016, on behalf of COSON by Lagos Intellectual property lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, COSON narrated the unending and unsuccessful efforts made by its officers to collect from FRCN music copyright royalties due to its thousands of members and members of the 135 international collective management organizations represented by COSON in Nigeria.
COSON stated in its court processes in Suit No FHC/L/CS/603/2016 that the behaviour of the likes of FRCN has led to massive loss of jobs to the Nigerian nation, significant loss of revenue to the country and heavy capital flight from Nigeria as most of the world’s best known international music companies have divested from Nigeria and the domestic investors are leaving the industry in droves because of the intolerable amount of copyright infringement encouraged by the likes of FRCN.
According to the COSON legal papers, the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari has identified the entertainment industry as one of the key areas to be promoted by the government to provide good paying jobs for young people in Nigeria, to reduce crime and insurgency and boost the nation’s economy but the activities of the likes of FRCN are set to torpedo the very good intentions of the government.
Also in the court documents, COSON expressed the concern that if the courts do not intervene, individual right owners in musical works and sound recordings may in frustration be forced to take precipitate actions to protect their rights and this may lead to breakdown in law and order.
Among the 42 FRCN radio stations listed in the suit are Kapital FM 92.9 MHz, Abuja; Metro FM 97.7 MHz, Ikoyi; Bond FM 92.9 MHz, Ikeja; Radio One FM 103.5 MHz, Ikoyi; Heartland FM-100.5 MHz, Owerri; Premier FM-93.5 MHz, Ibadan; Positive FM-102.5 MHz, Akure; Gold FM-95.5 MHz, Ilesha; Amuludun FM-96.3 MHz, Ibadan; Paramount FM-94.5 MHz, Abeokuta; Treasure FM 98.5 MHz, Port Harcourt; Progress FM 100.5 MHz, Ado –Ekiti; Supreme FM-96.1 MHz, Kaduna; Pyramid FM-103.5 MHz, Kano; Coal City FM-92.8 MHz, Enugu; Unity FM-101.5 MHz, Abakaliki; Pacesetter FM-103.5 MHz, Umuahia and Purity FM-102.5 MHz, Awka.
In a recent statement, COSON announced that it is set for an unprecedented show down in courts across Nigeria with copyright infringers and royalty defaulters.
Confirming what is planned to be the most extensive legal attack against intellectual property abuse in any country, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said, “We have no choice. We are fighting this war with every arsenal we can muster. We are deploying every resource at our disposal. We intend to win this war once and for all and change the intellectual property landscape in Nigeria. For all the defaulting broadcasting stations, we have notified the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). We have also informed the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). With respect to the hotels, restaurants, events venues and events organizers, we have met with the leadership of both the Hotel & Personnel Services Employers Association of Nigeria (HOPESEA) & Hotel Owners Forum (HOFA), the two main hotel associations in the country. They are fully briefed. We have left them in no doubt as to what we are about to do. With respect to telephone companies and transport companies, our lawyers are in touch with them. The deployment of music without a licence in a public or commercial setting in Nigeria will not happen anymore. We have asked our lawyers to go on rampage. Our brief to them is clear: there will be no untouchables and no sacred cows”.