Supreme Court dismisses appeal against Musical Society of Nigeria
The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal filed by Adedokin Records and Alhaji Saka Alagbado against Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN) over the decision of the Appeal Court affirming MCSN’s right to seek copyright infringement redress.
The appellants had prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the appeal court, which recognised the right of the respondent to file a suit against the appellants at the lower court for infringing on the work ‘Ojumo re’ originally written, composed, arranged and performed by Alhaji Fatai Olowonyo and contained in the album, “don’t touch me”.
Following the infringement suit, the appellants as respondents at the high court had filed a preliminary objection, saying the plaintiffs had no locus standi to institute the action because it is not a collecting society, and that the suit should be struck out. The trial judge, Rose Ukeje, now retired agreed with them and struck out the suit.
Consequently, the plaintiff filed an appeal at the court of appeal, challenging the decision and the appellate court upheld the appeal on the ground that the appellant did not claim to be a “collecting society” but the lawful exclusive owner of the copyright, including reproduction and public performance rights. Dissatisfied, the then respondents appealed to the apex court.
In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, a panel of five apex court Justices dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the court of appeal. “From the findings of the lower court, the respondent never refer ‘to itself as a Collecting Society’ and that from the provisions of the copyright Act, as amended, ‘a Collecting Society is not the same as owner, assignee, or exclusive licensee of copyright,” the court held.
Justice Eko therefore affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal delivered on September 27, 2004, which set aside the decision of the trial court contained in its ruling delivered on July 9,1997. He also affirmed and adopted the order made by the lower court to remit the suit to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge for re-hearing de novo (afresh) and awarded a cost of N500,000 against the appellants.
His words: “The trial court is ordered to give the case accelerated hearing, considering the age of the case. However, the appellant is ordered to pay the sum of N500,000 to the respondent as costs.” Justices Sidi Dauda Bage, Amina Adamu Augie and Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad supported the judgment, saying the appeal lacks merit and does not deserve to be allowed.