The question of whether the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) can administer, protect or sue for the infringement of its intellectual property right without being a collecting society approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been resolved by the Court of Appeal in favour of MCSN.
The Court of Appeal presided over by Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie and in a lead judgment delivered on the 28th Day of May, 2015 by Honourable Justice Joseph Shagbaor Ikyegh of the Lagos Division unanimously decided that as an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee, the MCSN need not be a collecting society before it can sue for the infringement of its copyright and therefore declared that Section 39 (formerly Section 32B) of the Copyright Act does not apply to MCSN.
The judgment was in respect of an appeal lodged by the MCSN against the decision of the Federal High Court in an infringement action which the organisation brought against Details Nigeria Limited (one of the operators of Multichoice or DSTV in Nigeria) for the broadcast of the works in MCSN repertoire in Nigeria without MCSN’s permission. The Federal High Court, presided over by Hon. Justice Tajudeen Odunowo, now retired, had ruled that because MCSN had not been approved as a collecting society, it cannot sue. Not satisfied with that decision, MCSN through its lawyer Norrison I. Quakers SAN went on appeal to the Court of Appeal, which now overturned the decision.
This decision apparently settles the raging controversy that MCSN as an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee of copyright does not necessarily need to be a collecting society to judicially enforce its copyright.
A close watcher of the intellectual property sector in reacting to the latest judgment of the appellate court declares that the decision of the Their Lordships would definitely open the way for competition in the copyright industry, which had been held down by stifling monopoly engendered by the corrupt activities of certain officials of the NCC over the years.
(Ruling sent by MCSN. If you know of a case filed in Nigeria’s courts affecting the entertainment industry or you are involved in the case and would like me to share with the AML audience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org).