Legal Drama

COSON Resolves 3Billion Naira Lawsuit Against Silverbird with Out of Court Royalty Settlement Agreement

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In July of 2012, I shared and discussed the news that COSON had filed a 3Billion Naira lawsuit against  Silverbird.

I also said the following:

“I expect, as a pragmatic matter, that many of these cases instigated by COSON will resolve in settlement agreements, especially given the publicity they generate and the seemingly slam dunk case for COSON. The challenge, after the applause/buzz dies down, is the enforcement of the settlement agreements they enter into. That is the trick. COSON might still need to institute lawsuits for breach of settlement agreements, just as a practical matter, down the line.”

Three months later, the parties have now entered into a settlement agreement. The  issue will now be enforcement of the terms and whether each will honor the promises made in the agreement. Time will tell. For you the artist signed as a member of COSON, this should translate into royalty payments for you whenever Silverbird pays COSON in your behalf for use of your musical works.  Time will tell if that is how it actually plays out.

“It was an atmosphere of celebrations when Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) the nation’s sole Collective Management Organization for musical works and sound recordings today signed a copyright royalty agreement with entertainment empire, Silverbird Communications Ltd, owners of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM stations across the country. The event which took place at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday this week marked the end of the copyright tussle between the two organizations.

Addressing a cross section of the Nigerian Press and music industry executives present at the event, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said that the signing ceremony was as a result of the common love and dedication shared by COSON and Silverbird to the rapid development of the entertainment industry in Nigeria and the establishment of best practices in the industry.
Speaking on the copyright lawsuits instituted by COSON against some music users in Nigeria, Chief Okoroji said, “Let me make it clear that in the defence of our members and their rights, if COSON must go to court, COSON will go to court. No user of music in Nigeria is hidden from COSON. We are monitoring everyone. Anyone hoping to keep us trapped in court so as to continue using music for free will be mistaken because we have other tools to deploy if litigation will not solve the problem. COSON is committed to the defence of the rights of the music industry in Nigeria no matter where it leads. If anybody pulls at us, we will pull back. If anyone pushes us, we will push back. We have opened our doors wide and still continue to keep them open to all who are willing to discuss with us and legally deploy music in their businesses. Those who respect us will receive respect from us but those who treat the music industry with contempt will get what they deserve’’.

He urged those who deploy music commercially to join hands with COSON and show respect for Nigerian laws and the rights of stakeholders in the music industry. He said copyright agreements such as the one with Silverbird were beneficial to the growth of the music industry in Nigeria.

Speaking on plans for the distribution of copyright royalties to right owners, he said, “Our word is our bond and I want to announce today that the COSON Board has decided that on December 11, 2012, once again at the National Theatre, Lagos, COSON will distribute more money to music industry stakeholders. I have been informed that it will be significantly more money than was distributed last year. This will be possible because of organizations like Silverbird who have committed themselves to respect the intellectual property rights of those who create and invest in the music that helps drive such businesses as broadcasting, hotels, night clubs, restaurants, airlines, etc. We ask other organizations who may not have done so to immediately join Silverbird to vote for the progress of music and musicianship in Nigeria.”
Also speaking at the event, President of the Silverbird Group, Mr. Roy Murray-Bruce called on broadcast stations and other music users to come on board and fulfill their obligations to COSON as the sole CMO for music. He said that as an organization, Silverbird Communications Ltd. is concerned with maintaining a good relationship with Nigerian artistes.

Mr. Chris Nkwocha, Lagos Zonal Manager of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) said, “NCC is happy to witness this agreement today between COSON and Silverbird Communications Ltd. Two and a half years ago, NCC approved COSON to operate as a CMO for music to collect royalties and distribute same to artistes in Nigeria. To achieve this, agreements like these need to be signed”. He also encouraged music users to ensure that the music pays the right owners who have creatively contributed to the successes of their businesses.

General Manager, Creative Development, Silverbird Communications Ltd. Mr. Jacob Akinyemi-Johnson, said that Silverbird was proud to be part of the revolution in the music industry being initiated by COSON. He noted the penniless state in which many Nigerian music icons had passed away but expressed hope that with COSON on board such stories were being re-written.
Also speaking, COSON Board member and CEO of Now Musik, (managers of Tuface Idibia, Timi Dakolo and other top Nigerian Acts) Mr. Efe Omorogbe thanked the Management of Silverbird Communications for being socially responsible and working with COSON to settle their copyright issues. He said, “Music has never been free and music will never be free. Music is produced at a cost, packaged at a cost and promoted at a cost. I wish to appeal to all who deploy music commercially to come to COSON and fulfill their copyright obligations”. To all users of music, he said, “If COSON can go to court with Silverbird whom we have been very friendly with; we will stop at nothing to get our money out of you guys”.

Also present at the signing ceremony was the General Manager of Silverbird Communications Ltd, Mr. Bola Salako, Members of the COSON Board; Mr. Obi Asika of Storm 360, Mr. Joel Ajayi, Azeezat Allen, Alhaji Sikiru Agboola, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, Justin Ige Esq of Creative Legal, Seun Omotoba & Co, COSON copyright licensing consultant for Lagos, Mr. Kazie Uko, etc.”

-Uduak
Twitter: @uduaklaw
Photo description: Ben Bruce of Silverbird Communications Ltd.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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