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There are strong indications that the music industry may yet again experience another big fight between music artistes in Nigeria and the broadcast outfits.

It would be recalled that some months ago, the Nigerian entertainment industry was almost brought down, when radio stations were directed not to play songs of some top artistes in Nigeria. The likes of 2Face, Victor Uwaifo and many others were affected by the directive due to royalty claims.

The war, which was among Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) and Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN), was only settled recently, when the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) waded into the matter.

A statement recently made available to First Weekly indicated that some members of BON and IBAN have not met their obligations as signed in May 2014.

In the statement, COSON urged BON and IBAN to “compel their members to act responsibly and meet their obligations under the COSON/BON/IBAN/NBC/NCC music copyright agreement signed in May 2014 without further delay.”

Speaking during the ‘No Music Day’ activities at the Board Room of COSON on September 1, COSON Chairman, Tony Okoroji said, “Sadly, we must draw the attention of the nation to the fact that despite the substantially reduced tariffs and the public pledge of the broadcasting industry to keep to the terms of the COSON/BON/IBAN/NBC/NCC agreement, a good number of the broadcasting stations in the country are still deploying music without paying the very low royalty tariffs negotiated on their behalf with the help of the NBC and NCC.

“COSON is therefore constrained to call on the leaderships of both BON and IBAN to compel their members to act responsibly and meet their obligations without further delay”.

Okoroji added that, “We wish to make it clear that COSON has resolved to protect the rights of music industry practitioners and to collect copyright royalties for the use of their music and sound recordings in Nigeria. That resolve is rock solid. We will not waver and there will be no sacred cows. If we need to go back to the courts, we will. If we need to take other actions, we will. We wish to repeat that it is far cheaper to obtain a COSON license for the music used by anyone than to engage COSON in an expensive legal tussle.”

The COSON boss asked the national and state assemblies to ensure that clear provisions are made in the budgets of the different government-owned broadcast stations for the payment of copyright royalties saying, “we refuse to accept a situation where the stations continue with the open stealing of the intellectual property of innocent creative people simply because ‘there is no budget’ for the payment for the key raw material they deploy in their operations.”

Okoroji also requested the leaderships of the Hotel and Personal Services Employers Association of Nigeria (HOPESEA) and Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA) to direct each of their members to immediately respect the agreement, which they freely entered into with COSON.

Commenting on the recently launched ‘Operation No Hiding Place’ co-ordinated by COSON, the former President of PMAN said that there will be no hiding place in Nigeria for any person or organization intent on continuing with the abuse of the intellectual property rights of innocent citizens.

“COSON is determined to substantially increase the royalty distributable to stakeholders in the music industry to match the massive use of music in our nation. That is why in 2013; COSON was compelled to institute several multi billion naira law suits against some users of music and sound recordings in Nigeria. We are ready to go the full hog and let the chips fall anywhere,” he declared.

Meanwhile, there was excitement recently at the office of COSON as the ‘Big Info Day’ was held. The Lagos office of the body was practically run over by music industry stakeholders, young and old on Tuesday, September 9, 2014.

The interactive event, organized by COSON, was witnessed by several prominent faces like Femi Lasode, Ras Kimono, Sunny Nneji; Efe Omorogbe, Azeezat Allen, Anne Inyang, King Wadada amongst others.

The ‘Big Info Day’ was an occasion to share information with stakeholders on music copyright royalty collection, distribution, documentation and the management of rights in a rapidly changing industry received huge commendation from participants.

One of the highlights of the interactive session was the presentation by the COSON Head of Documentation, Vincent Adawaisi, who took the stakeholders through the A-Z of copyright royalties, documentation, distribution and other music copyright related issues.

Another highlight of the event was the issuance of Interested Party Information (IPI) numbers to members of COSON, who were at the event.

According to Adawaisi, who advised members to handle the IPI number with care, the IPI-System is an international register used by CISAC societies around the world and contains names of all holders of rights in protected works.

He further stressed that the IPI system is important to ensure that members get appropriate remuneration for their works used anywhere in the world as it ensures the optimum documentation, distribution and accounting processes of the CISAC societies globally.

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