The Federal High Court, presided over by Honourable Justice SaliuSaidu of the Lagos Division, on Wednesday, 25th March 2020 struck down the Copyright Society of Nigeria Limited by Guarantee (COSON), as a company registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria Limited by Guarantee (MCSN) in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/274/2010 between Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (Ltd/Gte) vs. Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte), Corporate Affairs Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation, the Court held that “It is a misnomer to give the name which the Plaintiff has applied to register or similar to what the Plaintiff seek to register to the 1st Defendant (COSON) on 23rd November 2009 when the time allowed for the Plaintiff to complete their registration has not expired.” The Court held further that the 1st Defendant name was illegally approved and hence the 1st Defendant cannot lay claim to the name Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte.
The Honourable Court thereafter gave the following orders:
- That the 2nd Defendant, Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), acted improperly and illegally in approving an application by the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) to process the change of its name from PMRS to COSON at a time when the same CAC had reserved the very same Copyright Society of Nigeria Lte/Gte (COSON) for use by some members of the Plaintiff (MCSN) for themselves and on behalf of the Plaintiff.
- That the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) acted improperly and illegally to granting approval to the PMRS to process the change of its name to COSON having regard to the pendency of the Plaintiff’s petitions to them dated November 13, 2009.
- That an organisation whose genre of copyright is restricted to musical rights could not legally be permitted to use the name “Copyright Society of Nigeria” being a term encompassing rights arising from literature, arts, music, drama, cinematography, broadcasts, architecture, computer programmes, and so on.
- That the 2nd and 3rd Defendants (CAC and the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation), their servants, privies, agents and howsoever are restrained from approving or continuing to approve or otherwise recognizing the 1st Defendant as Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte).
- That the 1st Defendant (COSON), its members, servants, privies, agents or howsoever are restrained from using or continuing to use Copyright Society of Nigeria (Lte/Gte).
- That the 2nd and 3rd Defendants (CAC and HAGF) are directed to take necessary steps to cancel, change, alter or rescind any steps it may have taken towards effecting the change and or registration of the 1st Defendant’s name as Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte).
From the findings of Court, it was clear, just as MCSN warned when the news broke out that “a brand new” organisation has been formed way back in 2009, that the promoter of COSON set out to deceive, cheat and defraud innocent music practitioners and users of music by presenting to them a rogue company to supplant MCSN, when they knew that there are issues surrounding the incorporation or registration of the so-called company and a suit among several others was pending before the Court.
It has always been the claim of MCSN right from the beginning that the motive behind the launch of COSON was not altruistic but only to fraudulently and deceitfully supplant MCSN and take over the business which MCSN has been nurturing and developing painstakingly for many years. This they did for more than ten years but the moment of truth has finally come.
MCSN working with relevant authorities would leave no stone unturned to make this judgment and orders of the Court effectual as we would not be unmindful of any antics that may be employed by the promoters of the extinct company (COSON) to continue to deceive and defraud innocent and gullible creators of music and the general public.
Music creators (authors, composers, publishers, performers and producers of music), music users particularly broadcasters, hoteliers, restauranteurs, disc jockeys, night clubs, owners of online and digital platforms,etc, and the general public are hereby alerted that COSON has been illegal ab-initio and any business conducted with the phoney organisation was illegal and had no basis in law.
It should also be stressed that this organisation has equally been operating illegally in the last two years without approval or licence as a collective management organisation/collecting society and in defiance of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), the government agency regulating copyright matters in Nigeria. It is now up to the NCC to make the promoters and managers of COSON to account for these two years among others with appropriate legal force.
MCSN hereby warns that anyone who still continues to recognise or do business with a Rogue Company as COSON, will be at the risk of such a person or company as they may be liable as accomplices under relevant laws, particularly the Copyright Act 2004.
MCSN also assures music creators in Nigeria and affiliates worldwide that whatever that may have been collected within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on their works and creativities in terms of royalties would be fully retrieved and duly accounted for.
Keep keeping safe.
Thank you and God bless.
For MCSN Management.
27 March 2020
By: Aduloju Daniel