Adoke Orders Integration Of MCSN Into COSON In 3 Months

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ABUJA, Oct 07, (THEWILL) - The Musical Copyright Society of Nigerian (MCSN) and Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) have been given 90 days within which to fashion out a working alliance on the platform of COSON, which is the approved Collective Management Organization (CMO) for music and sound recording in the country.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke, SAN, gave the directive in Abuja during a consultative meeting he brokered between the approved COSON, the unapproved MCSN along with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

Adoke, having heard the submissions of the parties and the NCC, directed both COSON and MCSN to forge a working arrangement on the platform of COSON (as the sole approved CMO for music and sound recording) in the overall interest of the music industry and report back in 90 days.

It would be recalled that the Commission had on May 20 this year granted COSON 18 months to enable it reconstitute its interim board to accommodate the interest of the unapproved societies.

The AGF further stressed the need for the parties to show utmost good faith in making the integration work. He stated that if there were any pending criminal actions against MCSN by the NCC that may prejudice the amicable resolution of the dispute, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation has the powers to terminate such prosecution in line with its constitutional powers.

The Justice Minister had earlier observed that the meeting aimed at finding solution to the CMO crisis was without prejudice to any pending court processes by parties.

The Commission had, in briefing the Minister, informed that the approval of a CMO for the music industry was guided by four fundamental legal, policy and factual considerations, namely:

(i) The statutory requirements of the Copyright Act 2004 and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulations 2007;

(ii) The internal rules of the applicants in terms of transparent management, non-discrimination and membership composition;

(iii) NCC policy on approval of CMOs; and

(iv) Overall national interest.

Represented by the Director-General, Dr. Adebambo Adewopo, the Legal Adviser, Mr. Sunday Fagbemi and Assistant Director, Regulatory, Mr. Michael Akpan, the Commission informed the AGF that while COSON met the conditions for approval, MCSN defaulted for non-compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

The Commission drew the attention of the AGF to the position of its enabling law which precludes the approval of more than one CMO simultaneously for any given class of copyright works. Section 39(3) of the Copyright Act Cap 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 specifically provides: "The Commission shall not approve another society in respect of any class of copyright owners, if it is satisfied that an existing approved society adequately protects the interest of that class of copyright owners."

The Commission further explained that in view of the legal and policy imperatives, the Commission having granted provisional approval to COSON in accordance with the enabling Act and Regulation, it was no longer in a position to approve another society for the same class of rights for which COSON has licence, unless the Commission was of the opinion that COSON had failed in the discharge of its duties which is not the present situation.

The Commission actually affirmed that in its judgement, it is satisfied that COSON adequately represents the interests of the vast majority of the right owners in the music industry today while every interest can find adequate representation there.

The AGF accordingly endorsed the Commission’s policy and legal decision by calling on MCSN to work with COSON towards realisation of the objectives and gains of collective administration of copyright for the benefit of the teeming musicians and music rights holders.

Earlier, Chairman of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, had noted that following the formation of the Music Industry Coalition in 2009 by the convergence of all interest groups in the industry, the Coalition resolved to form one CMO for music which resulted in the formation of COSON, its subsequent application to NCC and eventual approval.

The COSON chairman said the coalition’s efforts were geared at resolving the over 20 years of crisis of collective administration of rights in the music industry which past administrations of the NCC and its former supervising ministers were unable to solve.

He expressed concern that efforts made by the music industry to involve MCSN in the formation and post approval operations of COSON were rebuffed.

Chief Executive Officer of MCSN, Mr. Mayo Ayilaran, in presenting the society’s position, accused the NCC of compromise and bias in the approval of only one CMO and urged the AGF to direct the Commission to approve MCSN to coexist with any other approved CMO in the industry.

Mr. Ayilaran blamed the lingering crisis on what he described as the perennial injustice and unfair treatment of MCSN by the Commission. MCSN further complained that NCC had refused to furnish MCSN with the reasons for its non-approval despite having requested for them.

The Commission, however, debunked the claim that MCSN made any request for reasons for refusal of its application, while also noting that the new CMO Regulation does not make it mandatory on the Commission to state such reasons except upon request.

Other representatives of COSON at the meeting were its directors, Onyeka Onwenu; Mr. Laolu Akins and Mr. Ife Omoregbe along with two members, Edward Jato and Sunny Nneji. Similarly other representatives of MCSN were its chairman, Orits Wiliki; its director, Chief Zeb Ejiro; its counsel, Mr. Dayo Ilori and two others, T-Mac Isele and Engr. George Dureke.