“This is about the respect of intellectual property in Nigeria.”
After several meetings, the Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, and broadcast stations in Nigeria finally signed a music copyright royalty agreement on May 21 at Eko Hotel& Suites, Lagos.
The agreement, which was made known in a press statement issued by the collecting society, COSON, brought to an end the prolonged disagreement between the music and broadcast industries in Nigeria spanning over 30 years which culminated in a major crisis in the last quarter of 2013.
The broadcast stations, BON, had last placed a ban on the music of several top Nigerian singers who insisted, through COSON, that they be paid royalty for music aired.
The agreement, which could be termed historic in the music industry, was witnessed by the Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba; Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Afam Ezekude; Director-General, Voice of Nigeria, Abubakar Jijiwa, who is also Chairman of the 400 member BON; and several other top government officials.
Following the back-to-back and significantly publicised copyright infringement law suits filed by COSON against some of Nigeria’s top broadcasting stations in 2013, the stations via BON and Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria, IBAN, announced the suspension of the broadcast of the music of nearly all the best known members of COSON on radio and TV stations across Nigeria.
The NBC and NCC intervened to resolve the matter. This led to the setting up of the COSON/BON/IBAN/NBC/NCC Joint Committee. Under the auspices of the committee, comprehensive negotiations have gone on between COSON and broadcasting stations in Nigeria since the beginning of 2014.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Mba who commended the Chairman of COSON, Tony Okoroji, for what he described as his doggedness and commitment to the respect of Intellectual property rights in the Nigerian creative industry, said: “This historic event isn’t just about the Nigerian music industry but the creative industry at large.”
“This is about the respect of intellectual property in Nigeria. Let us all see this as the beginning of better things to come for the Nigerian creative industry. This goes to tell other sectors that have been abusing creativity that the time is up,” Mr Mba said.
Also speaking at the event, the DG of the NCC, Mr. Ezekude, commended COSON and BON/IBAN for sheathing their swords and finally coming to the table to negotiate. He also expressed pleasure at the outcome of the negotiations.
“I did not realize that this day will ever happen in my time but I am glad that it has happened. We are finally here and are part of history. This event is not just about the copyright industry but a great day in the history of Nigeria. This is also proof to all that as a people, Nigerians can do the right thing if they put away individual interest and take on national interest. I encourage all parties involved in this agreement to keep to the letter and content of the agreement.”
Mr. Ezekude recommended that the payment of music copyright royalties be made a condition for the renewal of broadcast licenses henceforth.
The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, Chairman, Abubakar Jijiwa said, “When the crisis was going on, I knew something will give because of how both industries need each other. I am happy that after several months of heated negotiations, we are here as witnesses of this historic day.
“This is a new dawn but we must all work hard to ensure that we achieve the objectives of today. I want to assure all that the members of BON and IBAN will meet their obligations by this agreement.”
Popular broadcaster and Managing Director of Ray Power FM, Kenny Ogungbe, who represented IBAN, expressed satisfaction at the resolution of the crisis that had rocked the music and broadcast industries.
“I am personally happy for what has gone down today. Every organisation in the broadcast industry will queue up behind the agreement we have signed here today. It is binding and we are proud that we have made history in Nigeria at 100,” the Kennis Music boss was quoted as saying.
The COSON Chairman, Tony Okoroji, in his address said, ‘For many years, Nigeria had run away from addressing this problem leaving many frustrated and driving important investment out of our nation. There are many who had given up, believing that the problem will never be solved. Finally, we have sat on the same table with the broadcasting industry and made stringent efforts to find a working agreement on important issues that have stood between our music and broadcasting industries. It may appear like a miracle but it has happened’.
Mr. Okoroji added that “while there is no way in which we can undervalue the importance of today’s agreement, I wish to say that our expectations must be tempered as we have had to make significant compromises so that we can move forward. This agreement is therefore an important first step as we begin the journey to end the many bad habits that have held the creative enterprise unprofitable in Nigeria.”