by crossriverwatch admin
Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has filed a Five Billion Naira suit at the Federal High Court, against the Cross River State Carnival Commission, the Governor of Cross River State and the Attorney General of the state 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.
In the Suit No FHC/L/CS/1544/13 with a 41 paragraph Statement of Claim filed on behalf of COSON and obtained by CrossRiverWatch from Mr. Tony Okoroji, COSON is claiming that among the events organized in December every year by the Cross River Carnival Commission on behalf of the Cross River State government is the four day ‘Calabar Carnival’ widely known as Africa’s biggest street party during which over fifty trailer loads of massive loud speakers, without any license or authorization, communicate various musical works and sound recordings belonging to the members, affiliates, assignors and licensors of the Plaintiff, to millions of people lined up on several streets of Calabar and inside UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar, which musical works and sound recordings, without any license or authorization, are broadcast or caused to be broadcast by the Defendants to hundreds of millions of people in Lagos , all over Nigeria and around the world.
In the Statement of Claim, COSON states that it has repeatedly, through several letters, reminders and telephone calls , requested the Defendants to obtain appropriate licenses and pay requisite royalties for the musical works and sound recordings belonging to the members, affiliates, assignors and licensors of COSON communicated to the public, broadcast or caused to be broadcast by the Defendants and reproduced during and consequent upon the massive entertainment events held in the name of Calabar Carnival and Calabar Festival organized by the agencies of the Cross River State government, to no avail.
The statement further states that rather than obtain the required licenses and pay proper royalties for the intellectual property belonging to the Plaintiff’s members, affiliates, assignors and licensors, the Defendants have shown complete contempt for the lawful demand of the Plaintiff and that the Defendants have even begun massive advertising for another month long festival/carnival to be held from November 30, 2013 during which if unchecked the Defendants will continue with the unauthorized communication to the public, broadcasting, and copying and infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings of the members, affiliates, assignors and licensors of the Plaintiff.
COSON also stated that apart from the significant amount of Nigerian copyright owners whose rights are infringed during the festival and carnival, a substantial amount of the royalties that ought to be due from the licensing of the musical works and sound recordings, belong to various foreign nationals represented by COSON and that as a result of the various Intellectual Property conventions entered into by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, failure to respect the intellectual property rights of the relevant foreign nationals may result in diplomatic and economic sanctions against Nigeria.
Commenting on the development, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji said, ‘We have to do our job but this is unfortunate. I know how much we have tried to avoid this matter getting to this point. I know how hard we have tried to engage the officials of the Cross River State Government to find an amicable answer. I know the personal efforts made by our Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji who has several friends within the Cross River State government apparatus.
The problem is that in this day and age, many supposedly educated Nigerians still do not take intellectual property matters seriously. They think that people’s intellectual property can be freely used anyhow and anywhere they want until the matter results into a big court action costing millions. I hope that others learn from this. This matter could easily have been resolved with the Cross River State Government. Unfortunately, you can take a horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink’
several attempts to speak to the Chairman of the Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah were not successful as his phone was not connecting and the Governor’s CPS was also not reachable.
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