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Court stops COSON from general distribution practice

Court stops COSON from general distribution practice

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has declared that the General Distribution which is practised by the Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, is illegal.

The practise involves the annual distribution of the same amount of music royalties, usually about N30,000 each, to thousands of the organization’s members.

This practice was challenged in court by the Music Publishers’ Association of Nigeria, MPAN, in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1418/2019; Green Light Music Publishing Ltd, Chocolate City Music Ltd, Premier Music Publishing Company Ltd v. Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte.

The judgement which was delivered on November 25, 2020, by Justice Oguntoyinbo also ordered COSON to stop further distribution of royalties “in a manner known as ‘General Distribution’ or how so ever called which does not reflect the usage of works.”

Speaking after the judgement, Mr Olumide Mustapha, counsel to the plaintiffs, and chair of MPAN said, “This decision will make more money available for increased (Specific) royalty distribution to deserving COSON members. It also represents part of the important things that had to happen to encourage an inflow of local and foreign investments into the Nigerian music industry, without which the true financial potentials of the industry could not be realized and the careers, dreams and sustainable welfare of the Nigerian musician could not be provided for.”

Ms Ibukun Abidoye, Executive Vice President at Chocolate City and a witness in the lawsuit, also noted that, “General Distribution was neither sustainable nor truly helpful to the music industry. MPAN rather supports using the COSON Music Foundation for verified welfare needs of musicians, and as provided for in the COSON Memorandum and Articles of Association. It’s a really good thing that General Distribution is now a thing of the past”.

While reacting to the judgement, the chairman of COSON, Tony Okoroji simply said, “It is no big deal to us. It is no big deal. We have instructed our lawyers on what to do. It changes absolutely nothing.”

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