Owners of hotels, night clubs, restaurants and event venues in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, must brace up for a massive battle with Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation's sole collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings. This is because COSON has commenced the full enforcement of the war against music copyright defaulters in Abuja, a battle titled 'Operation No Hiding Place”.

A COSON delegation led by the Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji was in Abuja for several days last week to ensure that all the arrangements are solid and no stone left unturned to guarantee that no one who deploys music in a commercial or public space in Abuja escapes Operation No Hiding Place.

Speaking at a meeting with Engr. Onofiok Ekong, President, Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA), in his Abuja office, Chief Okoroji said, “You will bear witness that COSON has behaved very responsibly in this matter. We have engaged the hotel industry in Nigeria in several months of discussions and negotiations which you actively participated in. In December 2012, we signed a landmark agreement with the hotel industry to pay copyright royalties which are some of the most modest in the world. While a good number of hotels and similar establishments have complied with the agreement, there are those committed to unending lawlessness. They want to continue with the brazen stealing of the intellectual property of innocent citizens. We have come to inform you that we have decided to end this lawlessness forthwith. We are deploying every tool under the law so that it is clear that it cannot be business as usual. Any recalcitrant organization that enters our net is assured that to get out, it will cost such an organization at least ten times the cost if it had simply complied with the agreement which you helped to negotiate''

Chief Okoroji described COSON as a socially responsible organization which believes strongly in tackling issues first through dialogue. He said that it was in this light that the delegation came to the Federal Capital Territory to engage the heads of key institutions with interest in copyright and to notify them of the steps that COSON has decided to take to ensure compliance with the Copyright Act as Operation No Hiding Place unfolds.

Continuing, the former President of PMAN said, “COSON has spent substantial funds to organize several stakeholders' forums in Abuja during which we engaged music users in the FCT on the need to comply with the Copyright Act. While several organizations are imbibing the culture of paying music copyright royalties, we have met with a brick wall in some other instances. It is our resolve to have zero tolerance for any form of copyright infringement against the teeming number of young Nigerians and the 131 collective management organizations around the world that COSON represents. COSON is not going to take lightly the blatant disregard of the rights of the creative minds in an industry which continues to uphold the image of Nigeria internationally. We have taken the pains to be in Abuja because we mean business and we will stop at nothing within the confines of the law to ensure that every hotel, restaurant, broadcast station, club, bar and the likes in the Federal Capital Territory pay for the music they use. We have begun fully the enforcement of our war against music copyright defaulters in Abuja and no one will escape us”.

In response, the HOFA President, Engr. Onofiok Ekong thanked the COSON delegation for the visit and also commended COSON for the patience exhibited so far in its dealings with the hotel industry in Abuja which his association represents. He said, “I must commend your efforts so far in enlightening the public on the issues of copyright and how it affects our economy. I want to assure you of the support of our association. I promise to use my office as the HOFA President to get all our members to comply with an agreement which we freely entered into with COSON because it is for the greater good of our nation. HOFA is a collection of law abiding organizations. Any of our members who will not act within the law should not expect the protection of HOFA”.

It will be recalled that just recently, COSON launched a campaign against music copyright defaulters in Nigeria tagged 'Operation No Hiding Place' and has promised to make it difficult for any organization to deploy music commercially or publicly without meeting the demands of the law.

During the Abuja trip, the delegation also met with the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude; the Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Emeka Mba; the Director-General, Voice of Nigeria, Malam Abubakar Jijiwa who is also Chairman, Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON).

On the COSON delegation was the General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji and Mr. Sunday Abraham, the Principal Consultant, Visdav Consult, the well-known COSON royalty collection agents in the FCT.