The Oranmiyan Hall of Lagos Airport Hotel was bustling at its seams this past Tuesday, December 16, 2014 as musicians of all generations from every nook and cranny of Nigeria stormed the COSON Extraordinary General Meeting. From the likes of the iconic Dan Maraya Jos, Chris Ajilo, Laolu Akins et al to the magical Majek Fashek, OJB Jezreel, Azeezat, Black O' Rice, Kenny St Brown, the atmosphere was that of a carnival as gaily dressed musicians back slapped each other.

The musicians, young and old had gathered to approve the distribution of the sum of N90,000,000 to music industry right holders across Nigeria. Following the approval, the distribution commenced immediately.

Delivering his address at the event, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji announced that the sum of N90,000,000 (Ninety Million Naira) is an 80% increase on the sum of N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) which the society distributed in 2013.

Speaking on the society's plans to significantly increase its distributable income, Chief Okoroji called on the Federal Government to hasten the implementation of the Copyright Levy Scheme saying it is crucial to the survival of the music industry in Nigeria.

Said Chief Okoroji, “As you well know, with the advent of new technology, most people no longer obtain their music or movies by buying CDs or DVDs. They down load or blue tooth and deny owners of the works significant revenue. To compensate for this loss, in many countries around the world, a small levy is charged on the gadgets used for this stealing of intellectual property. The money collected from the levy of such gadgets such as MP3s, MP4s, cellphones, memory cards, flash drives, etc, is paid through the collective management system to the artistes, writers and producers whose music, movies and books are stolen. Twenty two years ago, Nigeria became the first country in Africa to provide for the levy in our laws. Sadly, well over 22 years since the promulgation of the law, the unending protocol, red tape and bureaucracy in the Nigerian system have made it impossible for the stakeholders to benefit from this important scheme which have for several years been lubricating the creative industries in neighbouring Ghana and Burkina Faso. It is our desire to ensure that the private copy levy scheme becomes operational in Nigeria in 2015 so that we have a new revenue stream to substantially increase the COSON distributable revenue.

“In a similar manner, we are working hard to establish the rules for the licensing of music in the digital environment in Nigeria ensuring that the rights of all authors, composers, publishers and owners of copyright in sound recordings are respected. This should also add to our distributable revenue.”

Speaking on the struggle for the respect of intellectual property in Nigeria, Chief Okoroji said the time had come for all rightholders to actively boycott hotels, event venues and other establishments that have failed to obtain copyright licences for the music deployed in their establishments. He said, “This is necessary to send the message to one and all that we mean business and that there will be consequences to those who do not respect their obligations to us. I hereby call on all our members to heed this decision reached by the Board to stay away from those places where they have no respect for us. Please remember that we continue to be in a historic struggle and that we must make the necessary sacrifice for the success of the struggle.”

In conclusion, Chief Okoroji said, “As I review the spirit and amount of work being done at COSON, I have no doubt that we have cleared the land, we have planted the seeds that will guarantee that we have sumptuous fruits in the near future to justify the many years that we have been in the wilderness. I am certain that we will have much increased royalties in the years ahead. We just need to remain consistent and continue to water the seeds that we have planted.

Speaking on the distribution, Dancehall king and COSON Board member, Baba Dee Fasassi said, “The annual distribution of copyright royalties to rightholders by COSON remains one of the best things to happen in the music industry. This is very commendable and we look forward to better days as regards the struggle for the respect of intellectual property rights in Nigeria”.

Also speaking, the Queen of love and COSON Director, Azeezat Allen said, “This is yet another beautiful day at COSON. Despite all the setbacks, COSON is still standing. This is a testimony to the resilience of our members in insisting that the copyright law in Nigeria is upheld”.

Present at the meeting was the Director General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) represented by the Lagos Zonal Manager of the Commission, Mr. Chris Nkwocha and Chairman of the newly approved Audio Visual Rights Society (AVRS), Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun.

This is the 4th consecutive time since its approval in 2010 that COSON has lived up to its mandate in ensuring that right owners are adequately compensated with what is their due.