A Federal High Court has delivered judgement in a suit filed by Multichoice Nigeria Limited against Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd.(MCSN)/GTE.
It would be recalled that MCSN had written to Multichoice in 2011 demanding N4.1 billion as cumulative copyright and royalties for its body of works used by the latter during the airing of its programmes.
Sequel to the letter, Multichoice dragged the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria to court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1091/11 seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the group from asking or demanding them to obtain copyright licence for the broadcast and communication to the public of musical works on the radio and television channels operated and distributed by Multichoice.
Multuchoice argued that MCSN was not licensed or approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission as a collecting society.
Some of the songs in question
In its counter-claim filed before the court, MCSN accused Multichoice of copyright infringement on 18 songs in its repertoire, including
- Konko Below
- Never Far Away
By Nigerian masked musician, Bisade Ologunde (popularly known as Lagbaja).
The other songs, which the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE accused Multichoice of using without lawful permission included
- UEFA Cup thematic music
- UEFA Championship League thematic music.
MCSN’s counter claim
MCSN, in its counter claim accused Multichoice of maintaining its usage of the songs, despite the court order. This had caused the copyright owners great losses.
The Court Ruling
In a judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris, the judge, struck out Multichoice’s claims against the defendant.
The judge said, “The court having delivered judgment this 19th day of January, 2018, striking out the plaintiff’s claims, it is hereby ordered as follows:
- That judgment is entered in favour of the defendant/counter-claimant in the following terms: N5,490,652,125.00 only as special damages.
- The court also awarded separate sums of N200 million and N309 million as general and aggravated damages respectively against Multichoice in favour of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE.
The Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) founded in 1984, is an incorporated collective association of authors, composers, arrangers and publishers of music. The body was set up to take over the responsibilities of both the Performing Rights Society PRS and Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS). The two bodies, which were the copyright bodies operating in Nigeria prior to independence.
Multichoice Nigeria was founded in 1994 and is a subsidiary of Multichoice Africa. The company owns the DSTV and Gotv pay tv packages. Multichoice Africa is owned by Naspers media, a South African firm.