Tuesday, May 3, 2016 11:31 am
By Funsho Arogundade
Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, the nation’s sole government approved collective management organisation for musical works and sound recordings, is ready for an unprecedented showdown 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, Chief Tony Okoroji, COSON Chairman, said to ensure that the battle is fought with no holds barred, the CMO is rapidly expanding and strengthening its legal team and engaging different sets of crack lawyers.
“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,” Okoroji said.
The former President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN noted that for all the defaulting broadcasting stations, COSON has notified the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN), the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as informed the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).
With respect to the hotels, restaurants, events venues and events organizers, he added that COSON has 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,” he assured.
It was gathered that since the beginning of the year, officers of COSON and the society’s consultants have been collecting detailed information in different parts of the country with respect to every organization which continues to deploy music without any copyright licence or the payment of musical copyright royalties.
Many meetings have also been held with different teams of Intellectual Property lawyers at the society’s headquarters in Lagos, in Abuja and at several other locations in the country targeted for the legal onslaught.
The list of those to face COSON’s legal fire, it was learnt, has been drawn and the strategies to take each of them on, has been mapped out.
Okoroji, a well known Pan African Intellectual Property activist said that anyone familiar with COSON knows is that if the body says it’s going to do something, it would do it.
“At COSON, we are resolute that the labour of Nigerian musicians and investors in the music industry who toil every day to make people happy will no longer be in vain. They cannot make people happy and be sad themselves. Anyone intending to exploit their sweat to serve his own purpose, has COSON to deal with,” he stated.
COSON boss continued: “The recent crash in the price of crude oil should be a lesson that Nigeria can no longer afford to waste her tremendous intellectual property assets. Our music and our movies in great demand everywhere in the world must count for something. They should contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP and provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of our citizens. The era of monkey dey work, baboon dey chop is over”.
Also speaking on the up-coming legal rampage, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, COSON General Manager said the body has tried everything: public relations, discussions, negotiations and moral suasion but it is clear that there are people who are down-right recalcitrant and have disdain for the rights and wellbeing of creative people.
“COSON did not achieve the success we are known for by being lily livered. If anybody hits us, we will hit back. We have gone to court against the nation’s biggest banks, the topmost hotels in the land, the country’s best known broadcast stations and even state governments. That is how we have been able to collect and distribute the hundreds of millions of Naira that have gone to various music industry right holders,” Chukwuji disclosed.
“There is however billions of Naira belonging to them out there. We intend to collect this, distribute the money and make investment in the Nigerian music industry attractive once again. More than any other organisation in the history of Nigeria, COSON is using the law to effect social and economic change. We respect everyone but anyone who does not respect the musicians of Nigeria and those belonging to the 135 collective management organisations from every continent in the world which are represented by COSON should be ready to face imminent fire from us. It is that simple”.