Emmanuel Thomas l Sunday, March 12, 2017
IKOYI, Lagos, Nigeria – Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, has slammed a N12 billion copyright infringement suit on Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Ltd, the parent company of ETISALAT Nigeria Limited at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Joined in the big copyright infringement action filed on Friday, March 10, 2017 by Lagos Intellectual property lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, is Etisalat’s CEO, Mr. Matthew Willsher.
COSON filled the suit while mediation is ongoing in an out of court settlement of the N16 Billion copyright infringement action it filed against MTN Nigeria.
In the new suit no. FHC/L/C3/363/17, COSON has not only asked the court for four different declarations of copyright infringement against ETISALAT in its “Experience” or “Flagship” Centres across the country; the different ETISALAT Music Concerts, Festivals, Award Shows, Product Activations and Corporate events; the ETISALAT EASYTUNEZ platform; the ETISALAT CLOUD 9 Platform, etc., the nation’s sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings, has also demanded that Etisalat delivers up and forfeits to COSON all infringing copies of the Plaintiff’s musical works and of any articles or technologies in the possession of Etisalat, their servants, agents and privies, specifically designed or adapted for making such copies, adaptations, distributions, communication to the public, and/or public performance of the Plaintiff’s musical works or in the alternative a destruction upon oath of all such infringing copies and articles or equipment.
With 14 distinct claims endorsed on the writ supported by a very detailed 47 paragraph Statement of Claim, COSON which also represents in Nigeria over 140 Collective Management Organizations from every part of the world and the major international music labels has also asked for a perpetual injunction restraining ETISALAT, its agents, privies and servants from the continued unauthorized copying, communication to the public, streaming, selling, broadcasting, making available for downloading and permitting the unauthorized performance to the public and infringement of the copyright in the musical works belonging to members, affiliates and assignors of COSON.
Attaching over 100 exhibits to the Statement of Claim and lining up 14 witnesses to testify during the trial of the suit, COSON warned of its concern that in frustration with the lawless behaviour of the likes of ETISALAT, individual right owners in musical works may be forced to take precipitate actions to protect their rights and this may lead to breakdown in law and order.
The new suit comes after an earlier 11 Billion Naira suit filed in 2016 by COSON against ETISALAT, was said by the trial judge in open court, to have been struck out inadvertently.
Speaking on the robust actions being taken by COSON to create a sustainable and strong music industry in Nigeria, Chief Tony Okoroji, the Chairman of COSON and well-known former President of PMAN who is one of Africa’s most respected authorities on Intellectual Property rights said, “Anyone who still thinks that COSON is joking needs to have his or her head examined.
“We are committed to stamping out the era of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” from the Nigerian music industry and establishing a transparent and accountable industry in which everyone who invests his or her talent or resources can rest assured that his or her investment will be fully protected.
“We will not buckle under pressure from anyone no matter how mighty. We have sued a federal government owned agency. We have gone to court against a State government. We have had to sue Nigeria’s biggest bank, wrestle in court with Nigeria’s biggest hotels and broadcast networks. At COSON, our belief is that no one is above the law.
“Anyone familiar with COSON knows that if we say that we are going to do something, we are going to 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. We are not just fighting for individuals, we are fighting for the Nigerian nation. The ongoing recession should make it clear to everyone that our nation must change course. We can no longer afford to anchor the future of our children and grandchildren on the vagaries of the crude oil market.
“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. We have instructed our lawyers to go on ‘rampage’. Our brief to them is clear: there will be no untouchables and no sacred cows”, he said.