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Copyright palaver! MCSN threatens HiTV

on   /   in Music 6:59 pm   /   Comments

Wiliki, Chairman MCSN

By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has ordered Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria, MCSN, and the bailiff of the court,  with the assistance of a Police officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police, to enter into the offices of  Entertainment Highway Limited, HITV, in Ebute Meta and Ikeja, both in Lagos State, to impound copies and plates of musical recordings, equipment, machines and appliances used for the infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright material by HITV.

It will be recalled that MCSN had dragged HITV to court,  claiming over N1.2 billion from HITV in the suit, for  alleged copyright infringement of some Nigerian and foreign musical works.

But while the trial judge in the matter, Justice Okechukwiu Okeke, ordered Mr Toyin Subair, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HITV to appear before him, Subair is yet to do so and for a pregnant staff among the workers of HITV, the court would have sent them to prison.

The court said since Subair was yet to appeal before it, that the plaintiff should at least be protected against HITV, consequently granting an interim order against the pay TV outfit.

The court said, “after reading the affidavit of urgency filed in this suit and hearing counsel to the plaintiff, it is hereby ordered as follows, “that the defendant respondent whether by itself, its agents, assigns, privies or howsoever permit a bailiff of this court, the plaintiff,

its agents and assigns in company of a police officer not below the rank of an assistant superintendent of police to enter upon the defendant respondent’s offices on any working day from Monday to Friday between the haul’s of 8.00am and 6.pm or any other day or time which the defendant may open for business at its known addresses specifically at 10, Ondo Street, West Ebute Meta, Lagos, 24 Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja and any other place or places within the jurisdiction of this  court where the infringing copies and plates of musical recordings, equipment, machines

and appliances used for the infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright are kept to inspect, search and take into custody and possession any infringing copies, plates of musical and audio-visual  recording, equipment, machines and appliances used for the infringement of the plaintiffs copyright, moveable property or thing that would constitute a breach of tile injunction and or order that the court may make pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction herein.

* That the defendant/respondent whether by itself, agents, assigns privies or howsoever to deliver up and surrender forthwith to the bailiff of this court serving High Court order all infringing copies as well as other materials which constitute evidence of the fact of infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright in tile listed musical works in the plaintiff’s repertoire as contained in the schedule to tills application, the volume of transaction or trade which has been done by the defendant,

such  other subscription forms. invoices, delivery order and receipt books which are in the possession of tile defendant, its servants or anyone pending tile determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction herein.

* That the defendant/respondent, its agents, assigns privies howsoever are restrained from infringing or continuing to infringe the copyright of the plaintiff in the musical works listed and described in the schedule to this application, which schedule is reproduced hereunder, and or any other work which copyright is or shall be acquired by or vested in the plaintiff within the territory of the  Federal Republic of Nigeria pending the determination of the notion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

are kept to inspect, search and take into custody and possession any infringing copies, plates of musical and audio-visual  recording, equipment, machines and appliances used for the infringement of the plaintiffs copyright, moveable property or thing that would constitute a breach of tile injunction and or order that the court may make pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory .

Some of the works allegedly infringed by HITV include that of King Sunny Ade, Charly Boy, Tuface, Faze, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Lagbaja, Adewale Ayuba, Tunde and Wumi Obey, Weird MC among others.

The court, had granted an ex_parte order permitting the MCSN to inspect the office of HITV to search and take possession of any infringing copies, plates of musical and audio_visual recordings, equipment, machines and appliances used for the infringement, pending the determination of the suit.

The court had also restrained HITV,  from continuing with the infringement of the works which copyright is vested in the plaintiff (MCSN), pending the determination of the matter.

The court had also directed the defendant to deliver and surrender to the plaintiff’s lawyer, accompanied by the courts’ bailiff, all infringing copies as well as other materials which constitute evidence of the infringement. But according to the bailiffs,  in the process of executing the court orders, the HITV officials allegedly maltreated them and ordered its workers not to obey the court order.

The bailiffs further averred  that they were almost lynched if not for divine providence. Consequently,  Justice Okeke ordered that the HITV MD, the company secretary and four other officials of the company to appear before the court to show cause why they should not be committed to prison for disobeying the orders of the court.

Subair had failed to appear before the court despite the fact that he was summoned on two occasions and it took the intervention of a counsel, who pleaded passionately with the court, if not, the HITV officials including the company secretary, who was heavily pregnant, who were in court, would have been remanded in prison custody, when the matter last came up.

HITV, in a statement of defence, is contending  that it had not at any point in time, infringed on the copyright of any work belonging to the plaintiff.

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