Judge adjourns Paul I.K Dairo’s N200 million copyright infringement suit against Etisalat

Paul I.K. Dairo (Paul Play)

A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Monday adjourned till May 24 for further proceedings a copyright infringement suit filed by musician Paul I.K Dairo against telecom firm Etisalat (now known as 9mobile).

Mr. Dairo (also known as Paul Play), a multiple award-winning singer, is seeking N200 million from Etisalat for allegedly using one of his hit tracks, Mosorire, in the company’s television reality show without authorisation.

According to the musician, the telecom company used the song in one its flagship shows, the Nigerian Idol, for two consecutive years without paying him.

Muslim Hassan, the judge, adjourned after Romeo Michael, Mr. Dairo’s lawyer, tendered as an exhibit a Deed of Assignment between Paul Play and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).

The exhibit was tendered through Mayowa Ayilara, the Director General of the MCSN, who appeared in court as a subpoenaed witness.

Joined with Etisalat in the suit marked FHC/CS/581/2014 is Optima Media Group, the organisers of Nigerian Idol.

In an affidavit filed in support of his suit and deposed to by himself, Paul Play said, “I am the copyright owner of the work named and tagged ‘Mosorire’, contained in my repertoire, exclusively for the jurisdiction of Nigeria and the authority or permission to exploit such work can only be obtained from me.

“However, the defendants, being an organiser of a television reality show tagged, ‘Nigerian Idol’, caused the use, adaptation and deployment of my said work, titled ‘Mosorire’ on the said show without my consent, and which was broadcast to several millions of television viewers throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the rest of Africa for 2012 and 2013 editions.”

The musician said the defendants particularly infringed on his copyright when they allowed one of the contestants on the show to reproduce and perform his song in the glare of the whole nation and beyond.

Paul Play also said that as a singer and composer, he was entitled to an annual fee of N100 million on the said track, which he said is commensurate with his effort in putting the work together.

According to him, having made use of his work without obtaining permission from him, the defendants had caused him loss of income while “they have made gains and improved on their own brand image.”

The musician, therefore, sought a declaration of the court that the use of his song without authorisation constituted an infringement of his copyright, as guaranteed by the Copyright Act, Cap C28, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 and sections 6 (6) (b) and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

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