A temporary reprieve came the way of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) recently with a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos restraining theÂ Nigerian Copyrights Commission (NCC) from preventing the society from carry on with its legitimate duty as a collective management organisation pending the determination of the substantive suit pending before the court.
In its reaction to both the NCC directive and the court order, chairman of the MCSN, Mr. Orits Williki urged its members not to exercise any worry over the decision of the NCC, claiming that their interests are protected, adding, MCSN retains its status as the owner, assignee and exclusive licensee.
The court order apart from restraining NCC, also granted MCSN and five others joined as plaintiffs in the suit the opportunity for them to abridge the three months pre-action notice required in law in line with Section 47 of the Copy Rights Act before an action can be instituted against the NCC to seven days.
The orders of the court were consequent upon an ex-parte motion brought before the court by the plaintiffs through their counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinhero (SAN) asking the court to, among other things restrainedÂ the respondents from dealing with the entire repertoire of copyright owned and administered by the applicants.
The MCSN in order to secure its vital interests and business, had approached the court following the NCCâ€™s letter disapproving its operation as a collective agent and its fresh approval of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) as a sole collective agent for music and sound recording in Nigeria.
Apart from these, the court ordered that, â€œCOSON or any other person or body whatsoever should not deal in the repertoire of works belonging to MCSN.â€
The NCC through its Director General, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo had written a letter dated May 20, 2010 disapproving MCSNâ€™s application to operate as a collective management organization.
However, the MCSN Chairman, Orits Williki in its reaction noted the NCC not only disapproved MCSNâ€™s application, it also gave no reasons whatsoever for the disapproval.
â€œThe board noted the public notice published at page 36 of the Guardian Newspaper of Monday, May 24, 2010 stating its approval of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), as the sole collective management organization for music and sound recording for the entire Federal Republic of Nigeria, contrary to the clear and unequivocal provisions of the Copyright Law.â€
While calling on NCC to reverse its decision, which he described as â€œan infraction on their constitutional and fundamental rightsâ€, Williki said such decision would only lead to monopoly of the copyrights system in the country.
â€œWe believe that the statement and public notice made by the Director General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, to the effect that no other association or group of persons would be allowed to oversee and protect their legally acquired copyright interest is an infraction on their constitutional and fundamental rights, as entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.â€
He also condemned in a strong term the prosecution threat by NCC to any organisation or individual purporting to operate as or performing the functions of a collective management organisation.
He said their organisation has apart from the court action appealed to the NCC to reconsider its decisions through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, whom it said was not properly briefed over the issue.
MCSN argued that the steps taken by NCC was â€˜malicious and not founded on any law or moral neither could it be accommodated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.â€ It added that whoever is doing one business or the other with MCSN should continue doing so, with the believe that truth and justice shall prevail at the end of the day.