Chief Executive Officer of Chocolate City Group, one of Nigeria's biggest music companies, Mr. Audu Maikori, has called on all those who deploy music in their businesses across the country to show respect for the copyright law by obtaining the appropriate license for the music they deploy from Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).

Speaking during a chat with select journalists at the COSON office recently, Mr. Maikori who is also a respected intellectual property lawyer said that it has become an issue of serious national importance that in the digital age, Nigerians understand the economic implications of the respect for intellectual property rights.

Said Mr. Maikori, “It is not acceptable that Nigerian music should be abused rather Nigerian organizations should embrace the culture of obtaining the right permit/license for the music they use. That way, not only will they be abiding by the law, they will also be empowering the Nigerian entertainment sector which last year contributed substantially to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

'The royalty system is designed to ensure that the creators of music benefit from their creativity even after their active years and that the generations after them have something to fall back on. COSON is at the forefront of ensuring this. For the first time in so many years, Nigerian music creators can actually make money from the use of their works and the nation will benefit from the thousands of jobs which the entertainment industry has the capacity to create'.

Speaking on the operations of COSON, Mr. Maikori who is a key member of the Board of the organization, said, “The COSON regime is based on international best practices in terms of how rights are collected, managed and royalties distributed to right owners. For clarity, COSON is the only licensed Collective Management Organization for music in Nigeria and I believe that it in the best interest of the music industry and for the sake of posterity, everyone needs to obey the law that has to do with music licensing. The royalties collected by COSON are distributed through a transparent system. You can walk into the COSON office anytime and ask for the formula through which the distribution is made and you will get it. Please do not make assumptions based on hearsay.

'COSON has shown consistently through the past three years that it is not here just to talk but to effect changes for the greater good of the nation. You will recall that a few months ago, there was this fracas between COSON and the broadcast industry that led to the banning of music of most of Nigeria's top artistes across the country. The music industry came together. People like us were resolute not minding the consequences. We felt that the issues had to be resolved once and for all. I am happy that a few months ago, we were able to resolve the issues and go back to a good working relationship with the broadcast industry. That just shows that problems can be properly addressed in Nigeria. This is not a short term war but a long term struggle for Nigeria's soul and the Nigerian creative industry. I can assure you that if there are no returns from the hard work we put in; people like us will stop investing in music because it costs a lot and most times you do not recoup what you spend. If you are a true Nigerian and a patriot, it is in your interest to support the creative economy of Nigeria by not infringing but obtaining the proper licenses and paying copyright royalties.”

Speaking on the consequences of the blatant abuse of the copyright law which has led COSON to launch 'Operation No Hiding Place' to confront infringers of music copyright, the Chocolate City boss said, “COSON does not only have the ability to bark but it also has the sharp teeth to bite. I however think that every responsible organization should avoid a fight with COSON and avoid that bite. It does not need to get to that point. I will like to point out that there are two parts to the breach of intellectual property; there is the civil part and there is also the criminal part which can also be pursued under the Copyright Act of Nigeria.”

Mr. Maikori also urged legal practitioners to carry out in-depth research and consult intellectual property experts before making commitments which at the end of the day are inimical to the progress of their clients.