In a unanimous decision, the Appeal Court, sitting in Lagos, has upheld the right of the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) to sue for the copyright violation of its repertoire without the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) because it is an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee.In a unanimous decision, the Appeal Court, sitting in Lagos, has upheld the right of the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) to sue for the copyright violation of its repertoire without the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) because it is an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee.
The decision of the appellate court was as a result of an appeal filed by the Performing and Mechanical Right Society (PMRS), now known as the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) against a judgement by the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS 1049/06 in which MCSN and Mechanical Copyright Protection Society had claimed damages against (then PMRS) and Skye Bank PLC for the infringement of the copyright in the work titled “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free” a musical work in respect of which they are assignee and holder and owner respectively.
In a preliminary objection by the PMRS and Skye Bank PLC, they argued that MCSN had no locus standi to sue because it was not approved by the NCC. However the Federal Court thought otherwise when it ruled that: “Because, the Plaintiffs are not a collecting society but have said they are the owner, assignee and exclusive licensee of the copyright, they need not call Section 39 of the Copyright Act to play and consequently. They cannot be said to have acted illegally by not complying with the provisions of the said sections.”
Dissatisfied with the decision of the lower court, COSON (the successor – in – title of PMRS) headed to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision vide a Notice of Appeal dated April 9, 2009.
The appellate court presided over by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, Justice Yargata Byenchit Nimpar and Justice Ogochukwu Anthony Ogakwa, in a ruling on October 27th, 2017, held that MCSN being an owner, assignee and exclusive licensee did not need the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission before it can enforce its rights under Section 16 of the Copyright Act which states that, “Subject to this Act, infringement of copyright shall be at the actionable at the suit of the owner, assignee or exclusive licensee of the copyright, as the case may be in the Federal High Court exercising jurisdiction in the place where the infringement occurred.”
In the final result, this appeal for lacking in merit, is dismissed accordingly. The Ruling by the trial court assuming jurisdiction over the 2nd and 3rd Respondents action against the appellant and the 1st Respondent is hereby affirmed.
Costs assessed at Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200, 000.00) are awarded in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to be paid by the appellant for the prosecution of the appeal. The lead Justice in the appeal,, Mohammed Lawal Garba ruled. The other Justices concurred with the lead judgement.