Legal Drama, Music Business

Bombshell! – MCSN Performing Rights Agreement With PRS Of The UK Terminated Since 2010!

COSON NigeriaI continue to watch in awe as COSON attacks MCSN and MCSN does the same. What is wrong with these two PROs? How exactly does the information below move the industry forward, COSON? I really fail to see it. Both parties keep taking to the media, their own publicity campaigns etc. to assassinate each other’s character and integrity, dig up information and say “gotcha!”

What’s even more ridiculous is they both have ongoing litigation against each other but insist on taking to the streets to  keep throwing blows at each other. How exactly does this help the artists and the industry you both claim you seek to help? I think both of these organizations can exist in a huge country like Nigeria. COSON, MCSN, can we get on with the business at hand?

Read the recent “gotcha” story published by COSON on their site against MCSN.

-Uduak

“Bombshell! – MCSN Performing Rights Agreement With PRS Of The UK Terminated Since 2010!

Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has revealed that the so called performing rights agreement between the unapproved MCSN and Performing Right Society of the UK (PRS), the basis of much of MCSN’s claim to the right to collect copyright royalties in Nigeria, was terminated in 2010 with the leadership of MCSN keeping it a tight secret.

The revelation was made by COSON in a letter dated February 28, 2013, addressed to the Attorney – General of the Federation, Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke SAN. In the letter signed by the organization’s Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, COSON wrote, ‘It may shock you to realize for how long the nation has been taken for a ride by the unapproved MCSN and their cohorts. The best kept secret in Nigeria is that the so called performing rights agreement between MCSN and PRS was terminated on 31st December 2010 after notice was given in June 2010 for such termination. For more than two years, no such agreement has existed yet Nigerian institutions, courts, copyright owners and users of music have continued to be fooled and harassed based on an inexistent agreement. You can please confirm the authenticity of this information from PRS itself’.

In the letter, COSON also asked the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate how the leadership of Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), led by a paid employee of the Federal Government, is taking active steps to truncate the criminal trial of the unapproved MCSN and six of its officials which trial is being conducted by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), an agency of the Federal Government.

Frowning at a letter, BON/ES/Vol 111/12/91 dated February 13, 2013 and titled ‘PAYMENT OF ROYALTIES BY BROADCASTING ORGANIZATIONS OF NIGERIA (BON) MEMBER STATIONS’ addressed to the Attorney – General, signed by the Chairman and Executive Secretary of BON which letter is circulating across the country, COSON says: ‘We are horrified by the BON leadership’s sudden wholesale adoption of the blatant lies, contortions of the truth and deceit contained in the propaganda materials of the unapproved MCSN. A diligent search in your ministry will show that, word for word, the supposed letter from BON, signed by the Chairman and Executive Secretary, is essentially a copy of an existing MCSN document in wide circulation!’

Stressing that the BON letter is predicated on falsehood as the letter claims: ‘Picketing by COSON which usually resulted in disrupting operations of stations is now the order of the day’. Consequently, COSON demanded from the AG: ‘We urge you to request BON to provide you with a list of the broadcasting stations picketed by COSON and on what days the picketing took place. The truth is that since COSON was approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission on May 20, 2010, we have run a very responsible and professional organization which has become an international reference point and a pride to the Nigerian nation and the creative community. We have depended on the moral force of our arguments and the law and not once have we deployed any form of intimidation or violence to achieve our objectives. For the avoidance of doubt, COSON has never picketed any broadcasting station or any other organization for that matter and neither have we planned to picket any. Please ask the management of NTA and TVC Lagos among others and you will discover that it is indeed the unapproved MCSN that has deployed force to harass and intimidate these stations which are members of BON. Where was the BON leadership when these stations were being harassed by MCSN?’

Another aspect of the BON letter which COSON described as ‘embarrassing and filled with shocking falsehood is the claim in the letter that MCSN owns and controls ‘more than 90% of musical works and related audio-visual works within the territory of Nigeria’ COSON asked how the BON leadership came to the conclusion which COSON refers to as bizarre. In its letter to the AG, COSON asked: ‘What are the names of the artistes that created the 90% repertoire?’ In challenge to the BON leadership, COSON went ahead to list about 100 of Nigeria’s most popular artistes all of whom are members of COSON.

COSON insists that contrary to the assertions of the BON leadership, MCSN is not a copyright owner. The COSON letter says, ‘As we have repeatedly said, neither MCSN nor COSON is a copyright owner. A collective management organization (CMO) does not collect money on behalf of itself but on behalf of the copyright owners. The assignment made to the CMO is not to make it the owner of the works but to give the CMO the legal rights to manage the works. A CMO is like a caretaker. The landlord continues to own his house. It is this false claim of ownership that MCSN has been trying to use to mislead judges and to make the curious claim that their constitutional rights are being infringed.

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‘Once you understand that MCSN owns no copyright, you understand that MCSN has no constitutional rights at stake – nothing that anyone is infringing. It is this claim of copyright ownership that led to the bizarre judgement of Charles Archibong against the Nigerian Copyright Commission in Suit no. FHC/L/CS/35/2008 which the BON leadership is proudly citing as one of its authorities. In December 2011, when the undersigned had the opportunity to address the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court at the National Judicial Summit organized by the NJC in Abuja, I expressed my dismay that the effect of the judgment of Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/35/2008 is to overrule the decision of a full panel of the Court of Appeal in MCSN vs CDT (CL/L/498/97). I was not surprised therefore when recently I was informed that Charles Archibong has been sacked from the Nigerian bench.’
COSON is emphatic that the leadership of BON has never wanted COSON to succeed and are devastated by the tremendous success of COSON notwithstanding the many obstacles they have put in the way of COSON. As stated in the COSON letter, there is no effort that COSON has not made to work with the BON leadership and they kept being evasive, changing the goal posts every time and eventually mismanaging the entire process.

According to COSON, the consequence is the multi million naira law suits against individual broadcasting stations who are the users of musical works and sound recordings created at great expense by Nigerian and international creative talents and investors. In conclusion, the COSON letter to the Attorney-General asks, ‘Having put the stations in trouble, did the BON leadership contribute in any way in the defense of any of the stations? What if COSON had depended on the BON leadership? We would have remained where we had been for many years, copyright infringement would have continued unabated in Nigeria and the millions of Naira which has been distributed to Nigerian artistes as copyright royalties in the last two years would simply have been a mirage’.

In conclusion, the COSON letter states, ‘The leadership of BON may not quite get it but the train has left the station and is not going back’

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AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
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