A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar on Friday, January 27, 2017, fixed trial for three consecutive days in the ‘Calabar Carnival Copyright Case’.
Trial is scheduled to take place between February 15 and 17, 2017, in the copyright infringement action brought against the Calabar Carnival Commission and the Cross River State Government by Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
According to COSON, the dates were fixed by the presiding judge, Hon Justice I.E. Ekwo. Counsel to COSON, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, reminded the court that at the last adjourned date, it was recommended that the parties attempt an out of court settlement. Mr. Ige however stated that neither the Calabar Carnival Commission nor Cross River State Government (the Defendants) have since that date, made any known attempt to resolve the issues with COSON.
He further stated that COSON had made several attempts in the past to have the matters settled out of court but that the Defendants had not shown any commitment to such a resolution. According to him, COSON considers the matter very important and was ready to commence trial without any further delay.
Neither the Defendants’ representatives nor their lawyers were present in court. Justice Ekwo ordered that Hearing Notice be served on the defendants.
The case arose after COSON filed a case against the Defendants with regard to the events annually organised by the them on behalf of the state government. COSON states that during the four-day ‘Calabar Carnival’, widely known as Africa’s biggest street party, over 50 trailer loads of massive loud speakers, without any licence or authorization, communicate various musical works and sound recordings belonging to its members, affiliates, assignors and licensors , to millions of people. According to COSON, these activities take place on several streets of Calabar and inside UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
As a result, COSON is seeking among other things, an injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, privies or servants from the unauthorized copying, communication to the public, broadcast and infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings belonging to the members, affiliates, assignors and licensors of COSON.
COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, was present in court in Calabar. Speaking outside the courtroom, he stated that those who had thought that the law does not work in Nigeria should have learnt from the numerous successes of COSON that indeed the law works. He noted that since Nigeria is a democracy, no one in Nigeria should see himself as being above the law. According to Chief Okoroji, the same demand of the law that private individuals respect the intellectual property rights of citizens require that corporate organization and government institutions whether federal, state or local government do the same.
“Anyone expecting COSON to slow down in the defence of the rights of its members, affiliates or assignees must be dreaming. We are 100% committed to this course. If the matter in Calabar has to go to the Supreme Court, we are ready. It is that important to the Nigerian nation that badly needs investments, because in the new knowledge economy, respect for intellectual property rights is the epicentre of every successful economy”, he said.