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DAYS OF FREE MUSIC OVER AS COSON BEGINS NATIONWIDE MUSIC LICENSING

Source: ELIZABETH IKE/Nigeriafilms.com
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Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation's sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings, has begun negotiations for music copyright licences with all commercial users of music across the nation. This follows the expiration of the grace period announced by COSON for all commercial users of music in Nigeria to regularize their copyright licences.

COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji had recently announced that come October 1, 2010, the era of free music on Nigerian air waves and in public places will be gone forever. Chief Okoroji announced this position during the signing of the royalty collection agreement between COSON and Olusola Adekanola & Co, one of the nation's foremost indigenous firms of chartered accountants very well known in Nigeria for effective revenue collection. Olusola Adekanola & Co pioneered the nation-wide Accelerated Revenue Generation Programme (ARGP) that has helped governments across the country to recover billions of Naira owed them in tax revenues. They have been requested to ensure that the money due to the long suffering Nigerian copyright owners is collected from every nook and cranny of Nigeria.

Chief Okoroji had also informed the broadcast Industry of this development when he addressed the 53rd General Assembly of Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) in Awka, Anambra State in September 2010. The Chairman of BON, Mallam Abubakar B. Jijiwa at the BON General Assembly, requested all broadcasting organizations operating in Nigeria to fully engage with Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to ensure payment of royalties for the musical works and sound recordings broadcast by them. According to Mallam Jijiwa, who is the Director General, Voice of Nigeria, the law is clear that every broadcasting station must pay for the music it uses and as law abiding institutions all broadcasting stations in Nigeria should endeavour to comply with the law. Jijiwa also said that the issue of who to pay to no longer arises as the Federal Government has made it clear that all broadcast organizations in Nigeria should pay royalties for music and sound recordings to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).

According to COSON's Acting General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, we are not leaving any stone unturned this time. Any organization using music in Nigeria today without a copyright licence must be aware that it is engaged in copyright infringement or piracy and the consequences will be very heavy. We will not accept any more excuses. We will use every tool available to us to enforce the law as music industry stakeholders have been exploited for too long in Nigeria. Already, assessments have been sent to many of the users and it is in their interest to respond positively. Let me emphasize that it is the responsibility of the users to ensure that they obtain appropriate licence before the use of music or sound recordings. The fact that they have not received any assessment or claim that they are not familiar with what the law says will be no valid excuse. Anyone who thinks we are joking will discover otherwise'.

COSON has in the last 12 weeks carried out massive public education on the issue including the release of public notices. Category of music users affected include broadcast media organizations, hotels, restaurants, event venues, advertising companies, banks, telecoms establishments, airlines, road transporters, oil companies and such other enterprises in Nigeria which use music in any way to aid their operations.