Friday, 15 June 2012
Comedian Yaw, others may lose job as COSON sues for N1b
In a suit filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos on 5TH June 2012, COSON is asking for the award of more than one billion naira in unpaid royalties and damages against Wazobia FM and its owners for the unauthorized copying, broadcast and infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings belonging to COSON members, affiliates and assignors.
In the writ endorsed by Lagos IP lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, Seun Omotoba & Co, COSON has also asked the court for exemplary damages in the sum of Five Hundred Million Naira and aggravated damages in the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira.
In the momentous action, supported by a 38 paragraph Statement of Claim and 50 exhibits, COSON is requesting for a perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, their agents, privies or servants from further or other unauthorized copying, broadcast and/or infringement of the copyright in the musical works or sound recordings belonging to its members, affiliates and assignors and a perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, agents, privies, servants or however so called from evading or attempting to evade the payment of royalties for musical works and sound recordings broadcast.
Reacting to the development, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji who was present in court as the suit was filed said, ‘It’s a new day for the creative industry in Nigeria. Those who have followed this process will vouch that we have been patient with broadcast stations and commercial users of music in Nigeria. We have not been rash. We have pleaded with them… we have appealed and sought compromise on every front. Some users have sincerely engaged with COSON and we have resolved their copyright issues professionally. Some others have treated us with contempt and disdain and behaved as if Nigeria is a nation without laws and all music found in Nigeria is theirs to use as they wish’
Chief Okoroji, author of the book, Copyright & the New Millionaires, who is one of the best known campaigners for intellectual property rights in Africa, went on to say, ‘Those who have not followed our personal antecedents and commitment have gone on with the belief that COSON will bark and after a while we will tire. They are wrong because the COSON Board is resolute. Whatever we say, we will do. Finally, push has come to shove. It is time everyone learnt that the Nigerian copyright law is not a paper tiger but the law of the land. It is time everyone understood that COSON is prepared and determined to defend the rights of creative people in Nigeria no matter what it takes. I guarantee anyone who decides to trample on the rights of the music industry in Nigeria henceforth that he will pay a huge price’
Also commenting on the development, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, one of the few Nigerians with a first class international training in Intellectual Property, said, ‘We are monitoring everybody and I cannot say who will be next. I have often advised my friends who use music in broadcasting and in other public settings that it is far cheaper to clear the copyright ahead of time than to face the massive litigation that intellectual property infringement attracts. I don’t think it makes sense to have to pay the huge legal costs and still have to pay the licensing fees and damages because you cannot prove that the work you are deploying belongs to you but people will not listen. Let me be clear, COSON is not joking’.
Elated by the development, foremost female entertainer, Azeezat said, “It is a great thing. It has been a long time coming. This is a wakeup call to all others who are abusing copyright in Nigeria. We have to use someone as a scape goat so all others abusing copyright would know that it will not be business as usual”.
It will be recalled that in 2011, COSON petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Broadcast Commission (NBC) on the activities of Wazobia FM and its owners.