Top telecoms firm in Nigeria, MTN, has been slammed with a N16 billion lawsuit by the Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON.
The company was taken to a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos for alleged copyright infringement.
The suit was filed by COSOM’s counsel, Justin Ige in a 43 paragraph Statement of Claim with the suit No. FHC/L/CS/619/2016.
COSON urged the court for six different declarations of copyright infringement said to have been perpetrated by MTN in the MTN Friendship’, ‘Connect’ or ‘Walk In’ Centres across Nigeria; the MTN ‘Road Shows’ in Nigeria; the various MTN Music Concerts, Festivals, Award Shows, Product Activations and Corporate events; the MTN Callertunez platform; the MTN Music Plus Platform and the MTN Mobile Radio.
The organisation said it has taken several steps, engaged in massive media advertising, organized various programmes, devoted enormous time and resources in appealing to MTN to obtain the appropriate licences and pay requisite royalties for the musical works and sound recordings deployed by the company, but that MTN has behaved as if it is above the law and no attempt made by COSON has got MTN to meet its lawful obligations.
COSON claimed not one Kobo has been collected from MTN, complaining further that for every Caller Ring Back Tune (CRBT) sold by MTN, the Defendant keeps a whopping 60% – 70% of the income to itself, gives just about 30% – 40% of the revenue to be fought over by the Value Added Service (VAS) Provider, the Record Label, the Performer, etc and unconscionably and against all well-known international practices, pays not even one Kobo to the songwriters or composers, the copyright owners responsible for creating the musical works sold.
COSON expressed the concern that as a direct result of the refusal of MTN to pay royalties for the musical works deployed in its operations to promote and support its trade and business and directly boost its income, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been denied several millions of naira being Value Added Tax (VAT) and other taxable income accruable to the government from the royalties.
The body further asked the court for an injunction restraining MTN, its agents, privies or servants from the continued unauthorized copying, communication to the public, streaming, selling, broadcasting, making available for downloading and permitting the unauthorized performance and infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings belonging to the members, affiliates and assignors of COSON.