A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed March 19 for continuation of trial of alleged copyright infringement by Young Shall Grow Motors Ltd.
The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) had taken the company to court to challenge an alleged copyright infringement as guaranteed by the Copyright Act, Cap 28, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
COSON is seeking declarative reliefs that the acts of the defendant in copying and communicating to the public musical works and sound recordings of its members, is a gross infringement on its right as guaranteed by the Copyright Act, Cap 28, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
When the case was called on Thursday, two counsel — Mr Justin Ige and Mr Opeyemi Owolabi — announced appearance for the plaintiff, while no lawyer represented the defence.
Ige informed the court that the case was scheduled for continuation of trial and that the plaintiff was ready to proceed since his second witness was already in court.
He, however, told the court that he had received a letter from the defendant’s counsel seeking adjournment of the suit.
He said he was bound by its decision, but would be asking for cost against the defendant for the adjournment.
In his reaction, Justice Ayokunle Faji, pointed out that the defence counsel had stated in his letter his reason for seeking an adjournment, adding that it is necessary to afford him the grace.
The court also declined to award any cost against the defendant, and consequently, adjourned the suit until its subsisting date of March 19 for continuation of trial.
In its statement of claim, COSON argues that it entered into copyright licencing agreement with various transport services in Nigeria for the communication to the public of musical works of its members with payment of required royalties.
It argues that the defendant which had its office at No 1, Old Ojo Road, Maza-Maza, Lagos, had engaged in unlicenced public performance of musical works of its members in its buses, terminals and restaurants located within its facilities.
The plaintiff said the defendant had for several years and up till the time of filling this suit, allowed the use of facilities at its various terminals and vehicles for unlicenced and unauthorised exhibition of musical works of its members.
It said rather than obtain the required licence, the defendant had showed contempt for its lawful request for payment of the said royalties, and had patiently, continued with its “round-the-clock and round-the-year” infringement of the copyright in the musical works of its members.
Plaintiff avers that the head of its licencing operation, Mr Chibueze Okereke, had on June 11, 2015, boarded the defendant’s vehicle at its Jibowo Terminal and had personally, monitored some of the musical works displayed on it.
According to him, the following musical works of its members were played: “Sanko” by Timaya, “Igboro” by Famous, “Show you the money” by Wizkid, “Baby Hello” by Wande Coal, “Woju” by Kiss Daniel, “Ololufe” by Flavour and Chidinma, among other musical works.
The plaintiff, therefore, is seeking to claim the sum of N85.8 million against the defendant as royalties due to it from the defendant for the period of 2014 to 2017 as computed in the particulars of royalties or licence due to the plaintiff.
It claims 21 per cent interest yearly, until judgment is delivered, and further claims 12 per cent interest until final liquidation of the sum.
The plaintiff wants N20 million as both general and exemplary damages for the copyright infringement on the musical works of its members.
Meanwhile, in its statement of defence, the defendant denied the averment of the plaintiff on the grounds that the plaintiff is not the sole approved copyright collecting society with mandate to licence copying of musical works in Nigeria.
It argues that the issue of whether the plaintiff should be the sole copyright collecting society in Nigeria, had been a subject of pending litigation before some courts in Nigeria.
The defendant also denied that it showed contempt to the plaintiff regarding its request for payment of royalties, stating that plaintiffs claim of being the sole approved copyright collecting society in Nigeria was not resolute.
According to the defendant, until the pending issues are decided with finality by the courts, the defendant will not pay royalties to rival claimant.
Besides, the defendant added that there was also a conflicting decision as to who was qualified to receive royalties between the plaintiff and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria. (NAN)