Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji has said that the representatives of COSON in the on-going NBC/NCC/COSON/BON/IBAN Joint Committee will not sacrifice the interest of the music industry.
Addressing members of the COSON management at a meeting during the week, Chief Okoroji said, “We understand the historic nature of the on-going negotiations. In the interest of the country, we are willing to bend backwards where it is necessary and compromise where we consider it appropriate but we will not under any circumstance sacrifice the interest of members of COSON or the right owners in the various countries around the globe who have mandated COSON to manage their rights. You have my word that we will not sacrifice the interest of the music industry in Nigeria.
‘We refuse to accept that the music industry in Nigeria must subsidize the broadcast industry. By population, Nigeria is by far the largest country in Africa. Our GDP is set to outstrip that of South Africa in a few years. Our music is heavily in demand across the world; more than that of any nation in Africa. No one has yet given me any reason why in tiny countries, such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, etc, they are collecting far more royalties for music from broadcasting stations than Nigeria. No one has told me why South Africa has to collect over one hundred times more royalties for music from broadcasting stations than Nigeria. The royalties paid in Nigeria must be reasonable and in accordance with prevailing standards. This is about the future of our children who are investing their talent, time and resources to create the great music that is shaking the world. They have my assurance that regardless of the provocation, intimidation or threat, we will fully defend their interest’
According to Okoroji, “COSON is not interested in distributing pittance to our stakeholders as copyright royalties. Music is intellectual property with substantial value. Those who want it should be ready to pay for it. Our industry must show in its returns the fact that by far, we are the most active in the continent. We cannot say that we are the first and then we are behaving like the last.”
Asked why the negotiations seem to be going on for so long, the COSON Chairman replied, “This can never be a never ending process. The NBC pronouncement is clear as to when this process comes to an end. We are being very patient and professional. We have refused to be provoked so that no one seizes it as a reason to do that which is contrary to the interest of the music industry. Anyone who meets with us will tell you that we do not posture. We deal with facts. We are bringing a lot of incontrovertible facts to the table and my hope is that at the end of this process, the music industry would have taken a major leap forward. I wish to thank the leaderships of the NBC and NCC for their engagement.”
It will be recalled that on January 9, 2014, the National Broadcasting Commission published a major pronouncement in reaction to the COSON, BON/IBAN conflict and set up the NBC/NCC/COSON/BON/IBAN Joint Committee to review copyright royalty tariffs with respect to broadcast of musical works and sound recordings and to ensure that the royalties paid by broadcast stations in Nigeria are fair, reasonable and in accordance with prevailing standards. The joint committee was inaugurated in Lagos on February 24, 2014.