When I began Africa Music Law two years ago, I hoped to see these kinds of stories. In fact, the legal landscape was dead in the Nigerian music industry. “People were just acting anyhow” reflecting society at large. I am happy and beaming with smiles as the industry continues to get educated and resort to proper means of resolving disputes. This news, to me, is great news. For the artist and even the label, maybe not so much.
However, labels need to start holding artists’ feet to the fire and artists need to think before they sign contracts or walk away. The legal structure and music ecosystem is substantially different from the US, in many respects so if you are An American artist reading this saying, “what?” Relax. The power seems to be more in the hands of the artists than the labels these days.
In this case, this artist allegedly signed a one year contract with a label, then breached that contract and released his songs with a different label during the one year term. Check out the writ of summons. Y’all know what that is right? I think I may have discussed it in prior posts. Basically when you sue someone, you need to give them notice that they have been sued. Your summons (USA) or Writ of Summons (Nigeria) serves as that notice. In the USA, the summons are served with the actual complaint to you. The complaint explains what you are being sued for.
Service can be done in person, via mail, via fax (complicated rules attached to this), and by posting the summons and complaint on the door, among other methods. All methods have rules that have to be strictly followed.
If service of the summons and complaint is not done right, then the Plaintiff will need to re-serve the summons. I don’t know what the statute of limitations for a contract claim in Nigeria is. I have not researched it. But for California it is four (4) years for a written contract and two years for an oral contract. This is the time limit from the time your injury/wrong occurs to file your suit as a Plaintiff.
The court date is scheduled for October 22nd, 2013.
Writ of summons image -jaguda.com
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