Producer of popular talent hunt show Project Fame West Africa, Ultima Limited has denied claims of infringement levelled against it by singer/producer Paul Play Dairo.
Ultima said in a statement that the outfit does not owe Paul Play or any artiste royalties for the use of their musical works in its show.
“As a law abiding corporate citizen, respecting the rights of all stakeholders in her conduct of business,” Ultima has duly paid Copyrights Society of Nigeria, COSON, which was the government approved collecting agency, for all musical works that they used, the statement said in part.
“As is standard practice all over the world, rather than maintain individual agreements with each one of the hundreds of artistes whose songs we use, we have a single agreement with their collection body, COSON, who in turn is responsible for dealing with each individual artiste. They are responsible for collecting such payments on behalf of Nigerian artistes, and Ultima has duly paid COSON for use of such music,” Ultima stated.
Explaining further, Ultima pointed out that for the past five seasons of Project Fame, it annually made the statutory payments due and required for the use of musical works for both local and international artistes used on the Project Fame show.
In the first two years, it claimed to have paid the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society Ltd/Gte (PMRS) – which was the government approved collecting agency at the time, for all musical works that they used. From the third year when PMRS became Copyrights Society of Nigeria, COSON, Ultima continued with the payment to COSON for all the songs used in those years. “…And as such if Paul Play has any issues with payment of royalties for the use of his musical works, it should be worked out with COSON and not Ultima nor MTN,” the outfit stated.
But in a swift reaction, Paul Play denied being a member of COSON and said he has never given the collecting body right to negotiate or receive any royalties on his behalf from any organisation.
“As much as I would not want to comment much on this matter as it is already in court, I will state categorically to you that I am not a member of COSON. I have never given any right to anyone except my intellectual property manager. This is a case of theft and everyone involve will have to provide the evidence that I release the right to my songs to them when we get to court,” Paul Play told P.M.NEWS this morning.
Also speaking on this matter, Tony Okoroji, COSON Chairman, expressed disappointment over the latest development. He admitted that Paul Play is not a registered member of the sole collecting management organisation, but in recent past, he has collected some royalties from COSON, and his due for this particular song is already paid to us by Ultima.
“Paul is not a registered member of COSON, notwithstanding we are bound to protect his copyright as expected of us. His royalties and that of others are with us and he can access his money whenever he’s ready as we’ve done to him in the past,” Okoroji said.
He added that we are in a democracy and everyone has right to approach court to seek redress, but in this case, Paul is fighting a wrong case.
“It is so strange that any artiste will want to take Ultima to court over copyright infringement. The company is one of the few who feel responsible to respect and reward the creative people in this country and Paul knew this. If he has any issue with the company, he should have explored all means to settle it amicably,” COSON boss said.
The music star, through his lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has gone to court for redress over the unlawful use of his hit song “Angel of My Life” on MTN-sponsored Project Fame. He is demanding N500million from MTN and Ultima Studios. [PM News]