Legal Drama

Defendant Ultima LTD Responds to Paul Play’s 500Million Naira Copyright Infringement Lawsuit


ULTIMA LTD Responds to Paul Play 500Million LawsuitUltima LTD is clearly not cool with Paul Play calling them a  thief. So, it has issued the statement below to the public and media trying to justify and exonerate their action.

I recall when D-Black sued Vodafone in Ghana for infringement of one of his songs, they did a similar thing i.e. made the argument that they went through a PRO/some valid organization for the song at issue. Companies and brands, you are in Africa which means majority of the times things do not work as well as they should, especially in the rather new realm of intellectual property law, specific to entertainment.

You should first contact the artist/label for clearances on the songs you want to use. If they tell you the song you seek has been assigned to a performance rights organization (PRO) to handle all of their publishing, get it in writing. This helps avoid this kind of issue. Should the artist sue, you have the release he/she gave you.

As a recap to all:

1. When an artist makes music, we have two overriding copyrights to look at.

a) The copyright in the composition ;

and b) the copyright in the recording.

2. At issue in this case is the copyright in the composition of ‘Angel of My Life’ i.e. the publishing.

Plaintiff Paul Play argues that when he created ‘Angel of my Life’, pursuant to Nigeria’s copyright law, he retained exclusive copyright ownership in the song. He has never assigned/licensed that right to anyone. Accordingly, if ULTIMA LTD or MTN needed his song, they needed to have contacted him.  Within the publishing realm, the rights are subdivided into performance rights, mechanical rights and synchronization rights. I have talked about all three too many times to count.

What we are narrowing in on here are the synchronization rights. That is the right of MTN & ULTIMA to have used the song in their televised show and the corresponding compensation they needed to pay directly to Paul Play.

3. ULTIMA LTD is arguing that they were under the belief that Paul Play had assigned his publishing to the two PRO below and given them the right to license his song to companies who sought it. They followed the rules and should not be dealing with a lawsuit.

If Paul Play is right, then the law is construed on a strict liability basis and it is a too bad, so sad as in “u no well” i.e. “ori e o kpe” (your head is not quite together)  situation for ULTIMA LTD.

If ULTIMA LTD is right, it is a “you dey gbon gbon lo cigar,  you no well” situation for Paul Play Dairo.

4. WELL WHY IS PAUL PLAY NOT DRAGGING THE TWO PERFORMANCE RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS INTO HIS LAWSUIT?  If he claims he never signed up with them and they took money on his behalf for a total of five years, representing that he signed with them, then arguably that is fraud and they should be dragged into the lawsuit also. An artist has the right to refuse to be a part of a PRO, although it may not make sense logically. Indeed, we have seen P-Square say they are not joining any PRO until piracy is curbed in Nigeria’s entertainment industry, or something to that effect.


As Nigeria’s leading TV production company, Ultima Limited (Ultima) has produced the international format Project Fame (PF)for the last 5 years.

In the first two years, Ultima paid the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society Ltd/Gte (PMRS) – which was the government approved collecting agency at the time, for all musical works that Ultima used; and from the third year when PMRS became Copyrights Society of Nigeria (COSON), Ultima paid COSON for all the songs used in those years.

For the past 5 seasons of PF therefore, Ultima has annually made the statutory payments due and required for the use of musical works for both local and international artistes used on the Project Fame show. As is standard practice all over the world, rather than maintain individual agreements with each one of the hundreds of artistes whose songs we use, we have a single agreement with their collection body (COSON) who in turn is responsible for dealing with each individual artiste! COSON is responsible for collecting such payments on behalf of Nigerian artistes.

Ultima duly paid COSON for use of such music and as such if Paul Play has any issues with payment of royalties for the use of his musical works it should be worked out with COSON and not Ultima nor MTN.

We wish to state categorically that Ultima Limited is, always has been and remains a law abiding corporate citizen, respecting the rights of all stakeholders in her conduct of business.



Ultima Limited.

Statement first seen on

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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

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