Dangerous Twins producer To Pay Styl-Plus N6 Million
NOTABLE film producer, Mr. Tade Ogidan and Abuja based Afro R & B group Styl-Plus, are heading to the law court over alleged copyright infringement.
Styl-Plus, through their lawyer, Olumide Ekisola, is suing Ogidan for alleged copyright infringement to the tune of N6 million.
Trouble started when Ogidan early in the year allegedly used a piece of Styl-Plus' music entitled Olufunmi in his latest film Dangerous Twins without permission.
A letter by Ogidan to the group thanking them for allowing him to use the music, according to a source close to the young artistes, came as a surprise since he had actually used the piece of music. They consequently contacted Ekisola of Adejumo Ekisola & Ezeani law firm, Lagos, who wrote to the movie producer. A meeting between the two parties was held at Ekisola's office, The PentHouse Suite, Norman Williams Street, South West, Ikoyi, Lagos. But a compromise could not be reached as there was a deadlock on the issue of compensation.
"He (Ogidan) was boasting that he did Styl-Plus a favour by using their work. So nothing was achieved from the first meeting. He came with his lawyer to the meeting," the source revealed.
Several letters to the film producer by the artistes' lawyer were not replied. This consequently caused Ekisola to head to a Federal High Court, Lagos where he sought and obtained a motion exparte in September. The order granted by Justice A. R. Mohammed was extended to November four. The order, among others, "granted the plaintiffs/applicants leave to enter into the premises of the defendants (Ogidan and his marketers), and such other premises where any infringing copy or plate, film or contrivance used or intended to being used for the purpose of making copies or any other article, book or document by means of or in relation to which any infringement of the Plaintiffs/Applicants rights has been committed could be found and such if found be seized and delivered to this honourable court."
On October 29, at 2.25pm, the Anton Pillar order was executed against OGD Pictures owned by Ogidan on 10, Adeniyi Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos. At the end of the raid that was witnessed by the court bailiff who identified himself simply as A. Agboola, several VCDs, and video cassettes of the film were seized.
The same incident happened at Paulo International Concepts Limited, marketers of Dangerous Twins on 121, Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, Lagos. Efforts to frustrate the bailiff on the day of the raid were rebuffed by both the police and the court officials. "It was a big drama," the source revealed.
In the artistes' lawyer statement of claim filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos and made available to The Guardian, Ekisola is asking for the sum of N6 million from the defendants jointly and severally. Part of it reads: "The sum of N6, 000, 000, 00 (six million Naira) only as damages for breach of the plaintiffs' copyright or the option of the Plaintiffs an account of the profits made by the Defendants by the said infringement of the amount found to be due on the taking of such account; exemplary damages for conversion of the said work in the sum of ten million naira (N10, 000,000.00); interest at the rate of ten percent (10 per cent) per annum from the date of judgement herein until satisfaction thereof; a perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants jointly and severally by themselves their directors, employees ,servants, agents, and privies or otherwise however from further infringing the copyright of the plaintiffs in the song Olufunmi; delivery up or destruction upon oath of all the infringing parts of the work in the defendants' possession.
Efforts to contact Ogidan however proved abortive. After several calls on his mobile telephone, a voice at the other end of the line declared that the producer was "very busy and could not speak with you. Please speak with his lawyer," the male voice advised.
Mr. Efere Ezako, lawyer to the film producer, according to his aide, was also out of the country. He however confirmed the issue but added. "Yes, there is a matter like that and it is already in court. That is all I can say for now."
Mr. Ekisola Olumide, lawyer to Styl-Plus also confirmed the story. "The matter is in court, that is where it would be resolved as dialogue seemed to have failed."
In recent times, home video producers appear to have fallen in love with music of local artistes which they use as sound tracks. This development may not be unconnected with the distribution accord reached between Filmmakers Association of Nigeria, FAN, USA and Filmmakers Co-operative of Nigeria, FCON.
Late last year, FAN, USA signed an accord with local producers. This accord enables the United States based movie association to legitimately distribute the works of Nigerian moviemakers. The move hailed by critics of the sector was aimed at stemming the tide of piracy of Nigerian movies in the States while putting money in the pockets of producers, back home.
But there is a clause: Mr. Tony Abulu, president of FAN, declared in an interview with The Guardian, that the association would not take on any film that has a foreign music as sound track. "Copyright laws in the United States are very effective. I have noticed that Nigerian producers are fond of using foreign music as sound tracks and they are not paying for it. In the U. S. it costs about $1, 000 to use one minute of music in a film. But in Nigeria nobody is paying any of the foreign artistes whose works are being wantonly used. Now, if we take such a film to the States to distribute, the responsibility is on us to first pay that artiste whose music is the sound track before we distribute. How much are we going to make from each film after paying that much? So, we have told the producers that we won't take any of such movies unless there is proof that the permission of the foreign musician has been sought and received."
Producers thus turned to local artistes' works. But the issue now is are the owners of the works used by producers being duly compensated?