By Mayo Ayilaran CEO MCSN
NOTES IN RESPONSE TO COSON’S NEW CLAIMS TO USERS OF MUSICAL WORKS AND SOUND RECORDINGS AND THE PUBLIC
1. It is only the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) under the Copyright Act 2004 or the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulation 2007 that can declare or state whether or not the licence or approval granted to MCSN or any other organisation so licenced by the Commission, had expired. Since such decision or information has not been communicated to MCSN by the NCC, COSON or its counsel cannot pronounce on the status of MCSN’s licence/approval. MCSN therefore maintains and insists that its licence or approval as a collective management organisation/collecting society remains intact and valid.
2. On the judgment of the court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/274/2010: Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte vs. Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) & Ors, MCSN states that the judgment is very clear and unambiguous. COSON, before the law, never existed; thus whatever has been done by or in that name, particularly during the pendency of the case and other related cases, including those already determined by the Supreme Court, remains null and void ab initio. Otherwise whatever was done by and in that name was deceitful, fraudulent and absolutely illegal. MCSN therefore states firmly that everything done by or in the name of COSON since its purported inception was sub judice.
3. Virtually all the repertoire hitherto fore claimed by COSON was owned and controlled by MCSN prior to the purported formation and approval of COSON. MCSN never relinquished its claim to the rights or the works which it submitted in its claims before the Courts as the res to be preserved. Whatever approval or licence vis-à-vis rights purportedly acquired using the name COSON, was done under deceit and fraud; they cannot and will not stand in law. It should also not be overlooked that the approval or licence purportedly granted to COSON and all the rights acquired in that name were done while all these cases including the ones already decided by the Supreme Court, were pending before courts of competent jurisdiction. With most of cases gone against COSON, nothing remains to be saved for COSON to claim ownership of.
4. In the face of the law and various subsisting judgments, COSON remains an illegitimate entity. Its illegality can only be reversed with a decision of court of competent jurisdiction and we believe that users of musical works and sound recordings would not be a party to any illegality that would bring them and their officials into confrontation with the law.
5. MCSN’s status as pronounced upon in the two Supreme Court judgments, particularly in Appeal No. SC. 425/2010: Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte vs. Compact Discs Technologies Limited & Ors., of 14 December 2018 and reported in (2019) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1661) 1, as opposed to COSON’s were based on the consideration of the following facts and laws:
(i) When the cause of action arose.
(ii) When the right of action was acquired.
(iii) Date of commencement of the Copyright Act 2004 and whether the Act was retroactive or not.
COSON could only qualify, if and only if, it passed the above tests, which we strongly believe that it did not and cannot, no matter how it wants to rely on the judgments to claim that it is also an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee, a status over which it fought and ridiculed MCSN for many years.
6. COSON can only exist and operate at the mercy of the NCC and this mercy is no longer available to COSON more so that it has no past and current juristic existence based on subsisting court judgment.
7. For long, the founders and owners of COSON have been feeding fat on the conflicts which they instigated and sustained between NCC and the MCSN; it is their agenda that such conflicts continue so that they would continue to exploit such for their narrow benefits. The leadership of MCSN and NCC have seen through the scheme and are now better informed, by the various decisions coming from the courts, that a harmonious relationship between the Government Agency (NCC) and MCSN based on judicial authorities, particularly the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is the panacea for the delivery of creative dividends and prosperity for Nigerian musicians be they authors, composers, publishers, performers or producers of music and sound recordings.
8. MCSN would wish to advise COSON’s lawyer, Mr. James Ononiwu, who has turned himself to a press and media manager of COSON, that legal issues, particularly copyright, are not determined by media propaganda or press statements, but strictly within the hallowed chambers of the Law Courts. This advice does not in any way obliterate or cancel the falsehood, libel and distortions contained in Mr. Ononiwu’s various public statements, which the affected individuals in MCSN are free to directly take up with him and his propaganda machine.
9. Before the law and in fact, COSON is a dead horse, and whosoever is trying to beat it back to life is labouring in vain.