The Musical Copyright Society Nigeria Ltd/Gte (MCSN), has stated that anyone that goes around at this period from any organisation aside from the MCSN and parades as a CMO or collecting society with the intent of collecting royalties in whatsoever form or guise is a fraud and should be treated as such and immediately reported to relevant government authorities, particularly the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Police.
The chairman of MCSN, Orits Williki, made this known while reacting to claims by some individuals by an organisation not recognised by law which he said are untrue and mere fabrications to hoodwink the public to carry out assignments that it has no power to do.
According to him, it is the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) under the Copyright Act 2004 or the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulation 2007 that can declare or state whether or not the licence or approval granted to MCSN or any other organisation so licensed by the commission, had expired and since such decision or information has not been communicated to MCSN by the NCC, no individual or body can pronounce on the status of MCSN’s licence/approval.
MCSN maintained that its licence or approval as a collective management organisation/collecting society remains intact and valid, adding that a court judgment in a suit delineated FHC/L/CS/274/2010 between the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte vs. Copyright Society of Nigeria is clear and unambiguous, adding that COSON, before the law, never existed; thus whatever has been done by or in that name, particularly during the pendency of the case and other related cases, including those already determined by the Supreme Court, remains null and void ab initio.
“MCSN, therefore, states firmly that everything done by or in the name of COSON since its purported inception was sub judice. Virtually all the repertoire hitherto claimed by COSON was owned and controlled by MCSN prior to the purported formation and approval of COSON. MCSN never relinquished its claim to the rights or the works which it submitted in its claims before the Courts as the res to be preserved.
“Whatever approval or licence vis-à-vis rights purportedly acquired using the name COSON, was done under deceit and fraud; they cannot and will not stand in law. It should also not be overlooked that the approval or licence purportedly granted to COSON and all the rights acquired in that name were done while all these cases including the ones already decided by the Supreme Court, were pending before courts of competent jurisdiction.
“With most cases gone against COSON, nothing remains to be saved for COSON to claim ownership of. In the face of the law and various subsisting judgments, COSON remains an illegitimate entity. Its illegality can only be reversed with a decision of the court of competent jurisdiction and we believe that users of musical works and sound recordings would not be a party to any illegality that would bring them and their officials into a confrontation with the law,” Williki said.
According to him, MCSN’s status as pronounced upon in the two Supreme Court judgments, particularly in Appeal delineated SC. 425/2010: Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte vs. Compact Discs Technologies Limited &Ors., of December 14, 2018, and reported in (2019) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1661) 1, as opposed to COSON’s, were based on the consideration of certain facts; when the cause of action arose, when the right of action was acquired, date of commencement of the Copyright Act 2004 and whether the Act was retroactive or not.
Williki concluded that “MCSN would wish to state that legal issues, particularly copyright, are not determined by media propaganda or press statements, but strictly within the hallowed chambers of the Law Courts. This advice does not in any way obliterate or cancel the falsehood, libel and distortions in various public statements by the lawyer to COSON.”