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Copy Commission Approves COSON As CMO For Music

Source: EWACHE AJEFUA, BUJA BUREAU CHIEF - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: DIRECTOR GENERAL, NIGERIA COPYRIGHT COMMISSION, MR. ADEBAMBO ADEWOPO (L).
PHOTO: DIRECTOR GENERAL, NIGERIA COPYRIGHT COMMISSION, MR. ADEBAMBO ADEWOPO (L).
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ABUJA, May 26, (THEWILL) - Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte), (COSON) has been approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) as the sole Collective Management Organisation (CMO) charged with administering all rights, including royalties, for musical works and sound recordings in Nigeria.

The Commission has accordingly issued a certificate of approval to COSON in accordance with the Nigerian Copyright Act as amended and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulation 2007.

Director General of NCC, Adebambo Adewopo who disclosed this at a Media Briefing in Lagos also directed as part of the society’s licensing conditions, the reconstitution of the Governing Board and Management of COSON within six months of its approval dated 20th May 2010. The purpose, he explained, was to enable the new CMO to accommodate the interests of all right owners, ensure wider participation by all the right owners and harness the expertise available in the industry for the sound management of the organisation.

According to the Director-General, the approval of COSON was the outcome of the Commission’s reform of the country’s collective management of copyright in the music industry initiated since 2007, with the issuance of the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulation 2007 as approved by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of justice.

He said in line with the new Regulations, the Commission had called for applications from interested organisations with a closing date of July 24, 2009, adding that at the expiry of an extended deadline for submission of applications on December 31, 2009, three organisations applied for registration as collective management organisations, namely: Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria (LTd/Gte); Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (LTd/Gte); and Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte).

The Director-General said the Commission’s Management, consequent upon exhaustive deliberations, unanimously upheld the recommendations of a Committee set up to evaluate the applications received, the report of which indicated that out of the three applications scrutinized, the application of COSON demonstrated the highest level of compliance with the statutory and regulatory conditions for approval.

"Furthermore the Committee also noted that the establishment of COSON followed a broad-based consultative process which allowed for the participation of the majority of stakeholders in the music industry and therefore provided a wider and more accommodating platform for all stakeholders, which will make for a stronger and more cohesive collective management," he stated.

Debunking the perspective calling for approval of more than one CMO in order to promote liberalisation and provide a choice for right owners, he explained that collective management of copyright “is not a business as such and does not operate on the trite principle of competition and open market dynamics.

"On the contrary, collective management is a platform for the collection and distribution of the royalties that in fact belong to its members. It therefore operates as a trust, and could be appropriately regarded as permissible monopoly. This explains why it is usually incorporated as companies limited by guarantee with no obligation to pay tax as regular profit-making companies are required to."

According to the Director-General, the Commission in arriving at its decision to approve one CMO in music, took into consideration the statutory and regulatory conditions for approval; its extant policy of approving one CMO for a specific category of works and rights, as well as the overall interest of Nigerian right owners. Other considerations are the international best practices on collective management and the historical antecedence as well as the peculiar circumstances of the evolution of collective management in Nigeria.

He pointed out that the Commission also considered that approval of more than one CMO for the same class of works would further generate unhealthy rivary; raise administrative costs and deplete available royalties for distribution to right owners. It would also result in unnecessary disputes between owners of musical works and the recording companies that own the sound recordings.

The Director-General said in consideration of the interests of users and licensees of musical works and sound recordings, having more than one CMO would create more confusion and weaken the collective bargaining position of right owners as users are likely to reject double licensing for the same class of works.

"It is instructive that the Commission had in the past been inundated with complaints and inquiries from users of works who claimed that they were receiving demand notes for payment of royalties from various organizations in respect of the same works. The confusion will be compounded in the case of foreign representation where two societies enter into separate reciprocal representation agreements and local users would have to determine who has the rights to works within the territory of Nigeria,"he cautioned.

The Director-General remarked that in the absence of anti-competition legislations (as applicable to Nigeria), CMOs are subject to the internal control mechanism put in place by their members in addition to governmental supervision to safeguard arbitrariness and abusive tendencies. He added that the Copyright Act and the new CMO Regulation have provided elaborately for such governmental supervision to be exercised by the commission.

"With the current reform, the Commission has put in place a mechanism of monitoring that would entrench a higher level of responsibility for approved organizations. This is to ensure that right owners benefit from a sound management of their rights, while users are also assured of non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory terms of licensing." he stated.

The NCC boss enjoined the newly approved CMO to comply strictly with the operational guidelines stipulated in the statutory and regulatory laws as well as the terms of its license. He warned that the Commission would not hesitate to apply relevant sanctions for any breach, including revocation of its operating license.

"The Commission charges COSON to live up to expectation as a responsible and genuinely representative organization that will build bridges and not exacerbate the tension that has existed over the years in the area of collective management in the music industry. It is also important to note that the organization shall be operating under a more stringent regulatory environment for the purpose of rebuilding the foundation of and enthroning a sound collection management as an important pillar for a viable copyright system in Nigeria," he stated.

The Director-General charged right owners in the music industry to maximize the dawn of a new era engendered by the reform of the CMO regime in the country by supporting the approved CMO in carrying out its mandate effectively and efficiently

He further admonished: "For users of musical works and sound recordings, I wish to state here that the era of non-payment of accrued royalties for public performances and other usages of copyright works, on the excuse of not knowing the approved organization to remit to, is finally over. I therefore enjoin all such users to cooperate with the Copyright Society of Nigeria, by entering into appropriate licensing agreements and remitting all due royalties to the organization."

The Director-General reaffirmed the Commission’s continued commitment to playing its role as a catalyst for the enthronement of an effective and productive copyright system in Nigeria. He emphasized: "We are committed to this mandate and we call on the operators of the copyright industries, the consuming public, and you member of the Press to join us in this drive."