In May 2018, it was reported that the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) had suspended the operating license of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). The Commission instructed COSON in a letter to desist from negotiating and collecting royalties on behalf of copyright owners until further notice. Following the suspension, the NCC filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court against members of COSON, on October 8, 2018.
COSON, which was acknowledged as the sole collecting society for a number of years, was approved in 2007 by the Commission, as a collective management organization (CMO) for music and sound recordings, pursuant to the provisions of the Copyright Act (Act) and the Copyright (Collective Management Organizations) Regulations 2007. The Act empowers the NCC to sanction a CMO for failing to comply with the regulatory provisions regarding its operations or refusing to comply with its directive; such sanctions may include suspension of the operating license of the collecting society and in appropriate cases, the revocation of the license.
The NCC claims that the suspension was as a result of the refusal of the board of COSON to comply with the directive of the NCC. Furthermore, the governing board of COSON has been involved in certain disputes; particularly the accusation of its longtime chairman, Tony Okoroji, of forgery and breach of peace. The investigation into these disputes led to the NCC’s conclusion that certain members of the board of the CMO have violated certain provisions of the law. As such, criminal charges were filed against COSON and said members of its management by the NCC.
As the single largest CMO in Nigeria, COSON’s duty is to ensure that the rights of creators and other stakeholders are well represented. This suspension will undoubtedly create instability in the industry, which could affect potential foreign and local investments. It would be in the best interest of the music industry in its entirety, if this matter is resolved promptly to ensure that the interests of its stakeholders continue to be well represented.
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