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Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation's sole collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to grant judgment to the society in the 1.04 Billion Naira law suit filed by COSON on September 29, 2014 against Ikeja Hotels Plc., owners of Sheraton Lagos.
In an application filed by renowned Lagos Intellectual Property lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, COSON told the court that contrary to the rules of court and despite being served with the processes since well over 30 days up to the date of filing the application, Ikeja Hotels Plc, owners of Sheraton Lagos has failed, refused and/or neglected to take steps to enter appearance or file any pleadings.
COSON also stated in its written arguments supporting the application that it is convinced that the owners and operators of Sheraton Lagos have no defence to the claims against them and the averments in the claim should be deemed undisputed.
COSON lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige also argued that what COSON is seeking is judgment for royalties which the Defendants hope to hold on to, if possible, forever – during which time those persons whom the royalties ought to be distributed to will continue to suffer needlessly. He asked the court to grant the application and put an end to the pain of these persons.
It will be recalled that consistent with the kernel of its recently launched copyright enforcement initiative, 'Operation No Hiding Place', COSON in September filed the landmark copyright infringement action against Ikeja Hotels Ltd, owners of Sheraton Lagos. Also joined in the suit is Sheraton Overseas Management Corporation, which manages hundreds of hotels in several countries across the globe and Mr. Barry Curran, General Manager of Ikeja Hotels Ltd.
Reacting to the development when the case was filed, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji had said, 'Nigerian law is not a piece of artwork to be placed on the wall and admired. It is made to be respected and obeyed. Nobody should feel sorry for any hotel or music user sued by COSON. For years, they have been reminded over and over again to act within the law. Some of them however believe that Nigeria is a place where there is no consequence for what you do so they treat the law with scorn. They will soon find out that they are wrong. It is well known all over the world that you cannot deploy intellectual property belonging to someone else in your business without a licence. That is the linchpin of most strong economies in the world today but there are many in Nigeria who rake in millions from exploiting the works of creative people but show absolute contempt for the rights of the same creative people. We are committed to bringing that to an end'.
Continuing, the former President of PMAN and author of Copyright & the New Millionaires said, 'While major hotels such as Transcorp Hilton, Southern Sun, Eko Hotels & Suites, Protea Ikeja, Wheatbaker, Raddison Blue, Golden Tulip, etc. are complying with the law, some others believe that they are highly connected and nobody can touch them. They will soon learn that the law is not a respecter of persons. Let them go and hire the most expensive Senior Advocates and pay them millions. At the end of the day, they will find out that they must obtain licences and pay for the music they use. We will make them learn that the law is the law'