Law & Policy, Music Business

COSON to “Aggressively Intensify” the Licensing of Sound Recordings in Nigeria

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Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Nigeria’s performance rights organization responsible for collecting both mechanical and performance royalties, has now pledged to double down on the licensing of sound recordings. This means COSON realizes it needs to not spend time focusing only on the rights of the songwriter who wrote the song. It also has a legal responsibility to put the same efforts into protecting the rights of the recording artist, and the producer of the song.

For example, in the smash hit song ‘Izzue’ by Davido with featured artist Dammy Krane produced by Shizzi, if these artists are signed to COSON, COSON is saying any time ‘Izzue’ is publicly performed or sold, we will make sure the user of the song pays the licensing fee owed to Davido, Shizzi and Dammy Krane for the part they contributed. This is different from the payment that a user of song will still have to pay to the songwriter.

For the sound recording, how would a user use the song ‘Izzue’? They could reproduce it on a CD, allow for digital downloads (Mp3s, Mp4s), stream it (Pandora, Spotify, YouTube), allow for ringtones, ringbacks etc.

COSON’s news is a good development but it also raises the question of how COSON intends to deal with online music publishers, which includes bloggers, that stream the music of its member artists? Many of Nigeria’s top artists are now signed to COSON. However, for years prior to signing with COSON and even till now, they gave and give bloggers and other sites their sound recordings to publish on their platforms. Now that COSON is saying we will “aggressively intensify” the licensing of sound recordings, does it mean they will now begin demanding that these sites who also stream music pay a license fee for it? What happens to the rights granted by the artist directly to these online platforms? How does that conflict with the rights these artists hand over to COSON, if at all?

Interesting times ahead.

Read COSON’s statement below:

Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s sole collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings has announced that it will with immediate effect aggressively pursue the licensing of sound recording rights exploited by users in all commercial and public settings in Nigeria. This was made known after the society’s Management Board rose from its first meeting in the year.

Addressing the management of the society on the development, the Chairman of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji said, “After several consultations and careful review of the Nigerian Copyright Act, international best practices in collective management of music copyrights and the needs of our members, assignors and affiliates, the COSON Board has decided that it is in the best interest of stakeholders that the licensing drive for the rights in sound recordings is immediately intensified. As a very important organ in the Nigerian music industry, we must constantly review our processes and find ways with which we can serve the people we represent better. We will continue to ensure that the collective interests of copyright holders in the Nigerian music industry are upheld at all times.”
Reacting to the development, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, General Manager of COSON said, “No class of copyright holder is of less importance at COSON. As it is our practise, we will continue to work in the best interests of all. Users of music can be rest assured that the Board’s decision to intensify the licensing of sound recording rights is in their best interests and can save them from avoidable legal palaver. We have worked out the modalities and are open to discussions with any user of music that is ready to meet the requirements of the law.”

Watch the Izzue video – Hit song. Video, not so much.

-Ms. Uduak

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Africa Music Law™

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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