Veteran musician, Orits Williki who is the Chairman, Musical Copyright Society Nigeria, MCSN has accused the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, of misleading the public by relying on a 2010 judgment of the Court of Appeal to carry out a raid on the head office of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria, MCSN, last Tuesday.
The regulatory body, during the raid was said to have carted away MCSN’s files, documents, computers and other materials and detaining five staff members for two days.
Williki, while describing the raid of MCSN as “illegal, unconstitutional and contempt of valid court orders”, said on July 25, 2011, the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/35/2008 for the first and only time had the opportunity to determine the validity or otherwise of Section 39 of the Copyright Act vis-à-vis the actions of the NCC based on that Section and in extension the Compact Disc judgment and ruled that Section 39 of the Copyright Act as it relates to the action of the NCC against MCSN is unconstitutional, null and void.
“That judgment is subsisting and remains the only judicial authority on the constitutional validity of Section 39 with respect to the property rights and interests of MCSN and copyright owners in general. A garnishee order of N40 million was awarded against NCC which they are still paying”.
He wondered why the Commission should carry out a raid on MCSN again after it was precisely as a result of its 2007 raiding that prompted MCSN to go to court to enforce its fundamental human rights and asked for damages and got judgment in 2011. “Is this not a witch hunt? Do you know that in 1999, NCC raided MCSN for precisely the same reason?” Of course, we are also going to court on this,” he averred.
Willik said the Appeal No. CA/L/787/08 between Compact Disc Technologies Limited & ors is presently on appeal at the Supreme Court.
He recalled that in August 2010, the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/642/08 between MCSN vs. Visafone Limited raised the question of the constitutional validity or otherwise of the issue of approval or non-approval of MCSN as a collecting society under Section 39 of the Copyright Act when Visafone Nigeria Limited brought a preliminary objection seeking to strike out or dismiss an infringement action brought against it by MCSN relying on the same Compact Disc Technologies judgment.
“Anyone who deals with any other person or body, particularly COSON, in any interest in copyright works owned by or vested in MCSN does so at its own risk and would invariable have to contend with MCSN at the law courts. Everyone should exercise caution and confront any form of arbitrariness in these trying times”, Orits Williki cautioned.