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Supreme Court affirms MCSN’s legal status, right

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The Supreme Court has affirmed the legal right and status of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN), saying it doesn’t need approval as collecting society or an exemption as one to enforce it rights.

A panel of five Justices, in a unanimous decision, stated that Section 15(a) (now Section 17) and Section 32 (now Section 39) of the Copyright Act, as amended, which require a collecting society to seek approval or exemption of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) before it can enforce its rights do not apply to the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN).

The panel consists of Justice Mary Peter-Odili, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice Amina Augie and Justice Sidi Dauda Bage.

In the judgment delivered December 14, 2018 but obtained by The Guardian on Monday, the apex court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal in an appeal filed by MCSN in Suit No. SC 425/2010 between MCSN vs. Compact Disc Technology Ltd, Nu Metro Home Entertainment (WA) Ltd and Nu Metro Retail Nigeria Limited.

The appellant court has held that MCSN can’t enforce its rights unless it is approved as a collecting society or given an exemption by the NCC.

But in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, the Supreme Court stated: “I am in agreement with submission of the learned counsel for the appellant, that Copyright (Amendment) Decree No. 42 of 1999 which introduced Section 15A(now 17) is not retrospective.

“In fact, the Decree specifically stated its commencement date to be 10th of May 1999. Based on the above, I am of the humble opinion that since the law makers have specifically stated that commencement date for the Decree “to be 10th May, 1999”, it is clear that the law maker never intended the decree to have a retrospective effect”, she added.

The recourse to the Supreme Court arose when MCSN sued Compact Discs Technology Ltd, Nu Metro Home Entertainment (WA) Ltd and Nu Metro Retail Nigeria Ltd. in 2007 for the violation of its copyright.

But the defendants claimed that having no approval as a collecting society or an exemption from the NCC, MCSN had no locus standi to institute the suit under the Copyright Act as amended.

Justice Jonathan Shakarho of the Federal High Court thought otherwise and ruled in favour of MCSN.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the defendants appealed to the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal panel of I. M. M Saulawa (JCA), P. A. Galinje (JCA) and R. O. Nwodo (JCA) agreed with Compact Discs Technology Ltd and its sister companies that without NCC’s approval or exemption, MCSN had no locus to institute the case.

Dissatisfied, MCSN through its counsel, Dada Awosika appealed the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, which now set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal.


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