By NBF News

It was jubilation galore in the music industry during the week as the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) gave approval to COSSON as the sole collective management organization for music and sound recordings in Nigeria.

Indeed, several bottles of champagne were popped and the COSON slogan, let the music pay! rented the air at the Ondo Hall of the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos where musicians and other stakeholders gathered to celebrate the new dawn.

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

Even though, COSON has since been issued a licence, most people believe that the happy mood in the industry will last longer when the organisation abide by the licensing conditions given by the NCC Director General, Adebambo Adewopo that COSON reconstitutes its Governing Board and Management within six months of its approval dated May 20, 2010.

According to Adewopo, the purpose was to enable COSON 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.

In line with the new Copyright Regulations, NCC had called for applications from interested organisations with a closing date of July 24, 2009. At the expiry of an extended deadline for submission of applications on December 31, 2009, three organizations, Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Nigeria (LTd/Gte); Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (LTd/Gte); and Copyright Society of Nigeria (Ltd/Gte) applied for registration.

Consequent upon exhaustive deliberations, NCC 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,' Adewopo 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.'

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.