In a landmark case that has taken the copyright war to a whole new level, MCSN through its Attorney Dr. Ope Banwo has filed and certified a class the very FIRST CLASS LAWSUIT on COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT at the federal High Court against COSON and ALL Copyright users in Nigeria.
In the first Class Action Lawsuit to be filed in the ongoing war between the collecting societies, MCSN has decided to put an end once and for all to the issue of who has rights to collect, and be paid for exploitation of musical works in Nigeria, by suing COSON and ALL copyright users (i.e TV Stations; All Radio Stations; All Hotels; Clubs etc. in ONE Class Action lawsuit.
Today, Justice Idris of the Federal High Court certified the lawsuit as a Class Action today. The immediate consequence of this action will stop all copyright users (i.e. ALL RADIO STATIONS; TV STATIONS, HOTELS, CLUBS, PRIVATE COMPANIES ETC) from paying any royalties to COSON or any other body until ALL the issues before the court is determined. In addition, the MSCN also filed for an injunction against COSON to prevent them from distributing the royalties they have collected so far from rights users to their members since most of the money belonged to artistes on the repertoire of MSCN. Mr. Okoroji and COSON are also being sued to give an account of how they spent all the royalties they have collected so far. Any company that continues to pay any royalties to COSON before the determination of the lawsuit will also be committing contempt of court.
The court approved the 7 representative defendants namely Coson; International Distillers Ltd; Wema Bank; Pz Cussons, Vmobile; Motorola; and Glaxonsmithkline to defend the Class Action Lawsuit on behalf of ALL copyright users in the country. As with all Class Actions, decisions given in the case will be binding on ALL users of copyright regardless of whether they are before the court or not. This landmark Class Action case is also asking the court to Order Chief Tony Okoroji and Coson to account for ALL the royalties he has been collecting on behalf of artistes since 2003 while he was at PMRS and now at COSON.
Dr Ope Banwo, the attorney for MCSN who filed this matter explained why this drastic action is being taken. According to him, “I think it is time we settle all the issues once and for all in one lawsuit by joining all users of copyright like TV stations, Radio, Hotels, Banks, Clubs etc in one Class Action and let the court decide whether COSON can continue to reap where it did not sow simply because they have officers of NCC in their pockets”. “Let them come and convince the court why royalties belonging to artistes on MCSN should be paid to COSON, or why COSON should be collecting royalties on artistes that do not belong to their collecting society.” According to the CEO of MCSN, Mr Mayo Ayilaran, ‘we cannot be intimidated from protecting the rights of our musicians who have entrusted us with the responsibilities of making sure their artistic sweat is not pirated and used with impunity. We, as their legal assignees, also want to ensure that monies due to them from rights users are paid to their own agents and NOT Coson. Now that the law allows us to sue every copyright user in one class action suit, this matter will be settled once and for all”
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail for others to follow” – Ralph Waldo Emerson