May 9, 2016 — A couple of months ago, telecommunication giant, MTN, was charged for copyright infringement in an action brought by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC). It appears, the company is involved in yet another copyright infringement action but this time, in a suit filed by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
According to COSON, it has filed a N16 Billion copyright infringement lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Lagos against MTN.
In Suit No. FHC/L/CS/619/2016, COSON has asked the court for six separate declarations of copyright infringement perpetrated by MTN in the MTN Friendship’, ‘Connect’ or ‘Walk In’ Centres across Nigeria; the MTN ‘Road Shows’ in Nigeria; the various MTN Music Concerts, Festivals, Award Shows, Product Activations and Corporate events; the MTN Callertunez platform; the MTN Music Plus Platform and the MTN Mobile Radio.
In the Statement of Claim, COSON states that it has taken several steps, engaged in massive media advertising, organized various programs, devoted enormous time and resources in appealing to MTN to obtain the appropriate licenses and pay requisite royalties for the musical works and sound recordings deployed by the company. COSON asserts that MTN has behaved “as if it is above the law” and has failed to meet its lawful obligations.
COSON further asserts that in recent years, it has collected and distributed millions of naira received from various users of music to its members, affiliates and assignors as copyright royalty. However, fees have been collected from MTN “which touts itself as the biggest distributor of music in Nigeria and falsely holds itself out as a good friend of the Nigerian music industry”.
According to COSON, as a direct result of the refusal of MTN to pay royalties for the musical works deployed in its operations to promote and support its trade and business and directly boost its income, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been denied several millions of naira being Value Added Tax (VAT) and other taxable income accruable to the government from the royalties.
COSON went further to ask the Federal High Court for an injunction restraining MTN, its agents, privies or servants from the continued unauthorized copying, communication to the public, streaming, selling, broadcasting, making available for downloading and permitting the unauthorized performance and infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings belonging to the members, affiliates and assignors of COSON.