Okay, folks. Let’s get into this case that has gone viral within the Nigerian and African internet. I will take it in two parts. The second part I will share, in another post, will cover the substance/merits of the case including the seven-year contract. This post will address part one i.e. the issue of the alleged court injunction stopping Kiss Daniel from carrying on with his activities as an artist under his new label Fly Boy Inc., a claim made by his former label G-Worldwide Entertainment.
It is my conclusion that the label has misinterpreted and misinformed the public on the ruling of the court. Nothing in the order (see below), in my opinion, prevents Daniel from moving on with his music career under Fly Boy Inc., pending the next court hearing where the judge will hear all sides and make a decision as to the injunction sought by the label.
A disclaimer here before I get into my discussions.
I am familiar with the attorney who drafted the contract on behalf of the record label that is currently in dispute. I am also familiar with the lawyer representing Daniel. In fact, the aforementioned two are part of my network at Nigerian Entertainment Lawyers Group. Nevertheless, as many of you know, especially longtime subscribers of this blog, many of whom include industry professionals and fellow lawyers, it has no bearing on the merits of my discussion which is focused on the empowerment of our African artists and moving our ecosystem forward, which is what AML is all about.
In addition, I have reached out and given ample time for Daniel and G-Worldwide’s lawyers to share information about their claims and case backgrounds prior to this post. Kiss Daniel’s attorney has provided me with information. I am yet to receive G-worldwide’s response. When I do, I will supplement my discussions if I deem it necessary to do so.
Now let’s get into strictly the alleged injunction ruling that has created quite a stir in the public domain. Here is the gist of what is going on:
- According to the label, in its own statement made available to the public (see statement below), in 2013, Anidugbe Oluwatobiloba Daniel aka Kiss Daniel inked a seven-year recording contract with G-Worldwide Entertainment.
- Daniel is yet to fulfil all the terms of the contract. Nevertheless, he has walked out on the contract and started his own label. They claim his action of walking out is a breach of the recording contract.
- In contrast, according to Daniel per information shared through his lawyer in the public domain and the follow-up information provided to me for Africamusiclaw.com (AML), Daniel has fulfilled the terms of the contract and the only party in breach is the label. According to the exclusive statement, Daniel argues that the label has failed to provide an accounting of revenue, per the requirement of Clause 7, in the recording contract which forms the basis of him terminating his contract.
Below is what Clause 7 of the contract says:
“Company shall maintain proper accounting books and or records at its principal office, in relation to revenue generated, or expenditure expended in the course of the performance of this Agreement. Such books and or records shall include, but shall not be limited to, any documents or records which evidence the receipt and or disbursements of royalties and other monies generated in the course of the performance of the Agreement.
The Artist shall, at any time during the term of this Agreement and upon prior written notice to Company, Artist or his/her designated representative shall gain unrestricted access to inspect the books and records of the Company relating to this Agreement and shall be entitled to make copies thereof.”
In simple English, it is not enough that you as an artist sign a recording contract with a label, and have a specified royalty percentage you will be paid. During the course of your relationship, when the label gets paid, and if you are smart to have included an ‘Accounting’ clause in your contract, they must tell you, through an accounting statement, how much gross income they received from your master recordings the territories and tracks that resulted in the gross income, the expenses they incurred, the remnant and your royalty revenue share, among other things. Typically, if you have an accounting clause in your contract, you also want to ensure you have a right to inspect the accounting books of your label to be sure that they are not cheating you out of money owed to you.
Daniel claims that the label has failed to provide him with an accounting of the monies/royalties owed to him according to the requirements of Clause 7.
His attorney explains in a statement to AML, the following:
“…Unfortunately, when the inspection/audit finally held, our Accountant was denied unrestricted access to the “books/records” in clear breach of the unambiguous provisions of the Contract between the parties. We were surprised that they did not come to the venue of the inspection/audit with any physical books, receipts, invoices e.t.c. but only brought a mere laptop! And even refused to allow our Accountant to make a copy of the said “books/records” contrary to our rights under the Contract. We also discovered that their representative who brought the laptop is not an accountant and did not know anything about the transactions recorded in the laptop he could not answer any of the questions/queries posted to him by our account.”
In a nutshell, Daniel believes he has been shortchanged in payment. He requested an accounting and the label has failed to provide him with an accounting consistent with the terms of the contract. He also gave them enough time to cure (fix) the breach. They failed to do so. Therefore, in compliance with the terms of the contract, and based on the material breach, he decided to give the requisite notice of termination of the contract and move on with his life, including launching his new record label venture.
AML people, for this particular post, it is irrelevant whose story you believe because that is not what the fight is about for this specific post. The central issue here is whether a judge has, in fact, placed an injunction on Kiss Daniel to stop him from engaging in any and all related commercial music activities because of his contract with G-Worldwide? The answer, in my view, is an emphatic “no.”
How do I know this? Well, let’s look at the order the label has made available to the public.
The label went to court and wanted an emergency order to stop Kiss Daniel from essentially moving on with his music career. What the judge said in simple English was, “hey. Thank you guys for coming. I can’t deal with this issue right now. You guys will have to come back. In the meantime, whatever the terms of the contract are that you two agreed to, continue with it till we meet again.”
The label immediately took this to mean that Kiss Daniel was stuck with them because of the terms of their contract. The problem, however, is that the terms of the contract are precisely why there is a big dispute here. The terms call for an accounting of revenue of which Kiss Daniel again claims the label has not fulfilled which grants him the power, based on their failure, under the contract, to terminate the deal and move on with his life.
So, in my view, the label cannot tie Daniel down by interpreting and imposing an injunctive order that the court never made.
One of the reasons I believe my take is a more accurate interpretation is that we have seen cases from Nigerian courts involving the exact/similar disputes of breach of contract cases. In those cases, the judges were very explicit and had very clear language restricting the actions of the artists when ex parte injunctions were sought.
Examples of such AML archived cases include:
Chocolate City v. Brymo
Eric Many Ltd. v. Runtown
In my view, if the label wanted the restriction it has sought to attempt to impose on the public, then it should have asked for such an explicit order to be made by the court.
That’s all for this case.
I will discuss part two, the merits, in a different post.
Label Attorney Statement Issued to the Public
The attention of G-Worldwide Entertainment Limited (‘the Company’) has been drawn to acts by Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe (alias ‘Kiss Daniel’), who recently has been making publications on different print media and social media platforms soliciting for bookings to perform songs from his album NEW ERA and EVOLUTION. Mr. Anidugbe executed a 7-year Recording and Artist Management Contract (’the Contract’) with the Company in 2013 and which Contract is still subsisting.
“Contrary to the express provisions of the Contract, Mr. Anidugbe has taken steps to appoint a new manager, solicited for bookings, and has continued to negotiate and enter performance agreements in respect of the songs from the album NEW ERA, and EVOLUTION which is set to be released soon containing singles such as YEBA, FOR YOU, SENORITA, SOFA and others, both produced under the Contract, including using the stage name ‘Kiss Daniel’ without the Company’s prior consent and permission.
Further thereto, the Company has approached the Federal High Court, Lagos in suit no. FHC/L/CS/1758/2017 between G-WORLDWIDE ENT. LIMITED Vs OLUWATOBILOBA DANIEL ANIDUGBE to affirm its rights over the intellectual property under the Contract i.e. copyrights over the songs in both albums, and rights over the stage name: ‘Kiss Daniel’. By an application dated 20th November 2017, the Company sought interim orders of injunction, and other further orders as the Court may deem fit to make, against Mr. Anidugbe, retraining the Artiste’s further distribution, publication, or performance of these songs, or negotiating or entering any agreement thereof without the consent or permission of G-Worldwide Entertainment Ltd. The general public and the whole world is hereby put on notice that on the 30th day of November 2017, the Federal High Court made an order that status quo ante bellum under the Contract, be maintained by the parties, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in the suit. The import of the Order being that the state under which the parties existed under the Contract should be preserved until the Court makes a determination of the motion on notice filed by the Company.
All and any dealings in respect of the upload, distribution, and or performance of any of the songs, as well as the use or exploitation of the name ‘Kiss Daniel’ can therefore only be entered or made with the prior written consent and permission of the Company as provided under the Contract. The general public and the whole world is further cautioned that as the matter is now before a Court of law (subjudice), and following the Order to maintain status quo, any unauthorized upload, distribution, exploitation, performance, sales, and use of the songs (from the NEW ERA and EVOLUTION albums), or stage name ‘Kiss Daniel’, in any show, event, downloading or streaming platform, will be in violation of the Order of the Federal High Court. Anyone who does or continues to do so shall be liable as an accomplice for contempt of court, and the full weight of the law will be brought against that person as a contemnor. Any person or organization who negotiates, or enters into any agreement with Mr. Anidugbe to engage him on the basis of his presumed rights over the songs in both albums, or the use of the stage name ‘Kiss Daniel’, does so at his or her own risk and peril.”
Kiss Daniel Attorney Response
Label responds to Daniel’s attorney’s statement with the order and a letter