The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has approved the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) to operate as the only Collective Management Organisation (CMO) in the nation’s music and sound recordings industry.

The Director-General of NCC, Dr. John Asein, said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Vincent Oyefeso.

Asein said, “The attention of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been drawn to recent news reports contesting the statement made by Mr. Matthew Ojo, Director and Head of the Commission’s Lagos Office, concerning the approved CMO in the music sector.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the only CMO with approval to operate as a CMO in music and sound recordings in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act (Cap C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) is the MCSN.”

The director-general stated that the approval earlier granted to the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) lapsed on May 19, 2019 and had not been renewed.

“This position was upheld by the Federal High Court, Lagos, in Suit No. FHC/l/CS/425/2020 when the court ruled on Dec.1, 2021, that COSON was not entitled to the relief of an injunction to restrain the Commission from revoking its operating licence because the licence that it sought to preserve had lapsed.

“Although in line with the provisions of the Copyright Act and the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulations, 2007, COSON applied in 2019 for the renewal of its licence, it refused to comply with the terms stipulated by the Commission as the regulatory agency, including submission to an independent forensic audit of its accounts.

“It is an offence under sections 39(4) and (5) of the Copyright Act for any group of persons (including a corporate body) to purport to perform the duties of a CMO (also “Collecting Society”) without the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission.

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“It follows therefore that COSON cannot lawfully perform the functions of a collecting society including negotiating, granting licences, collecting and distributing royalties,” he said.

According to him, the commission is at this point not concerned with other issues bordering on internal governance or the corporate identity of COSON.

“But it is aware of the order of the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/274/2010 restraining COSON from using or continuing to use the name “Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte”, and that its appeal for a stay of execution of that judgment was denied by the same court on June 24, 2020.

“However, this serves as notice to owners, users, corporate bodies and the public on the status of COSON and that certain principal officials of the company (by whatever name called) are being investigated for criminal infractions under the Copyright Act.

“Therefore, anyone dealing with them as a CMO will be doing so at their own risk,” Asein said.

According to him, anyone that receives a demand for royalties from COSON or has any other information that may help the ongoing criminal investigation should report to the nearest office of the commission.

He expressed the commission’s commitment to reform the copyright system by ensuring that creators and owners of copyright benefit from their intellectual investments in the creative sector.

According to him, those entrusted with the administration of their rights are held accountable to acceptable standards of accountability and good governance. (NAN)