Listen to article

Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation's sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings, has written to President Goodluck Jonathan demanding the revocation of the broadcast licences of two well known radio stations, COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM with their headquarters located in the same building in Lagos for what the society describes as the rabid disdain for the nation's broadcast code and the copyright law.

According to COSON, “The owners of COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM, who have made hundreds of millions of naira annually in advertising revenue, principally from the broadcast of music and sound recordings, have shown clearly that despite the provisions of the law, they have no intention of obtaining appropriate authorization or license for the content they deploy or pay one kobo for the music and sound recordings that sustain their operations. In other words, COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM are above the law”.

Section 3.1.11 of the Broadcast Code states as follows:-

“The broadcast or rebroadcast of any content shall be only with the express permission of the right owner, piracy is strictly prohibited.”

Speaking to newsmen at the Boardroom of COSON in Ikeja on Monday January 17, 2011, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji announced that COSON is also requesting all advertising agencies and every organization in Nigeria which has sympathy for talent, creativity and the plight of Nigeria artistes to immediately withdraw their advertising from COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM, accusing the stations of operating as repulsive platforms for the rape of the rights of artistes in Nigeria and the defiant piracy of music and sound recordings. According to Okoroji, “We wish to notify Corporate Nigeria that of the huge amount of money paid by them to these stations, a small fraction of which is meant to be used to ensure that the owners of the content broadcast on the stations are paid, not one kobo is spent by the owners of COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM to properly acquire the rights to the music they broadcast 24 hours every day. We shall therefore consider any advertising agency or organization still advertizing on COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM as an enemy of Nigeria's creative industry bent on aiding and abating the continued infringement of the rights of Nigerian artistes”. COSON is also requesting “all self respecting artistes” to boycott the two stations.

Explaining the decision of COSON to take these unusual measures against the two stations, Chief Okoroji said, “In the last six months, COSON has written countless letters to COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM, inviting them to discussions, as we are having with others, on the content they use. They have never bothered to reply any of our letters. Our lawyers have written several letters to them on the same issue and each of the letters has been treated with the same disdain. Our operatives have called their officers on the phone and the result has been the same contempt. Meanwhile COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM continue to blast unlicensed music 24 hours every day as if Nigeria is a jungle with no laws.

“We have come to the conclusion that except drastic action is taken to establish that Nigeria is truly a nation of laws and that there are consequences in treating our laws and institutions with contempt, there will be no sanity and this unsavory situation will continue”.

Recalling the trauma suffered by the music industry for the several decades of widespread infringement of copyright by broadcast stations in the country, Chief Okoroji said, “For over 25 years, the broadcast industry in Nigeria has treated the artistes that have created the music that sustains their twenty four hours a day broadcast with disrespect and disdain. As you well know, last December, the music industry lost the great Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister. In recent years, the industry has lost icons like Sunny Okosun, Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, Bala Miller, Nelly Uchendu, Prince Nico Mbarga, Orlando Owoh, etc. These national icons between them created thousands of hit songs released in hundreds of albums which sustained broadcasting in Nigeria for decades. Is it not a national scandal that despite the clear provisions of our laws, none of these artistes received one kobo in broadcast royalties in Nigeria until they died, some of them, in embarrassing poverty? In death, their music continues to create millions of Naira in revenue for other people while their families live in penury”

The COSON chairman repeated that the society is committed to fulfilling the pledge made to music industry stakeholders that broadcast royalties will be distributed to them in 2011, saying, “Whatever it takes, we will do it”.

To the owners of COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM, the former president of PMAN warned, “if they want to engage the music industry in a long drawn war, we are ready. We are prepared to take them on as long as it takes and we assure them that they will regret the decision to engage us. If they are in doubt of our resolve, they may have to review our pedigree. If these measures do not get them to do the right thing, we have other tools in our tool box which will be deployed as they become necessary. Our patience has been exhausted. We will not retreat and we will not surrender until the likes of COOL FM and WAZOBIA FM show appropriate respect for the rights of Nigerian artistes. Until that happens and artistes in Nigeria begin to receive their full dues, we will fight this war”.