The attention of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been drawn to recent news reports contesting the statement made by Mr. Matthew. Ojo, Director and Head of the Commission’s Lagos Office, on its behalf concerning the approved Collective Management Organisation (CMO) in the music sector.

For the avoidance of doubt, the only CMO with approval to operate as a CMO in music and sound recordings in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act (Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) is the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).

The approval earlier granted to the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) lapsed with effect from 19th May 2019 and it has not been renewed. This position was upheld by the Federal High Court, Lagos, in Suit No. FHC/l/CS/425/2020 when the court ruled on 1st December 2021 that COSON was not entitled to the relief of an injunction to restrain the Commission from revoking its operating licence because the licence that it sought to preserve had lapsed.

Although in line with the provisions of the Copyright Act and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulations, 2007, COSON applied in 2019 for the renewal of its licence, it refused to comply with the terms stipulated by the Commission as the regulatory agency, including submission to an independent forensic audit of its accounts.

It is an offence under sections 39(4) and (5) of the Copyright Act for any group of persons (including a corporate body) to purport to perform the duties of a CMO (also “Collecting Society”) without the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission. It follows therefore that COSON cannot lawfully perform the functions of a collecting society including negotiating, granting licences, collecting and distributing royalties.

The Commission is at this point not concerned with other issues bordering on internal governance or the corporate identity of COSON but it is aware of the order of the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/274/2010 restraining COSON from using or continuing to use the name “Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte”, and that its appeal for a stay of execution of that judgment was denied by the same court on 24th June 2020.

However, this serves as notice to owners, users, corporate bodies and the public on the status of COSON and that certain principal officials of the company (by whatever name called) are being investigated for criminal infractions under the Copyright Act. Therefore, anyone dealing with them as a CMO would be doing so at their own risk. Anyone that receives a demand for royalties from COSON or has any other information that may help the ongoing criminal investigation should please report to the nearest office of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for further action.

The Commission is using this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to reforming the copyright system and ensuring that creators and owners of copyright benefit from their intellectual investment in the creative sector and that those entrusted with the administration of their rights are held accountable to acceptable standards of accountability and good governance.

Vincent A. Oyefeso
Director, Public Affairs
For: Director-General