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NCC opposes licensing of musical copyright society

31 May 2013, 11:04

Abuja-  The Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) on Thursday said it would not recognise the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).

The commission announced the position in Abuja at a public hearing on its activities organised by the House of Representatives Committees on Justice and Judiciary.

The NCC said that the MCSN had not met the requirements for registration in the creative industry.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the house convened the public hearing to investigate the ongoing dispute between the regulatory body and the society.

The MCSN had applied for licence to operate as a collecting society, but was denied the approval by the commission.

The society said that the commission acted against the order of the Federal High Court, Lagos, that the commission should not disturb its operations.

Defending the action, the Director-General of the commission, Afam Ezekude, said that the society failed to submit all the documents it required.

He said that part of the requirements was a list of names and signatures of at least 100 of its members.

He said that the laxity the society had shown in complying with the law to obtain a licence was not in the interest of artistes.

He alleged that the society still collected royalties on behalf of the artistes without a licence, which by law, was a criminal offence.

Ezekude said that the action led the commission to arrest some of its members and file a criminal suit against it after thorough investigations had been made.

The director-general said the commission could not approve another collecting society, if the existing one adequately protected the interest of artistes and operated in accordance with the law.

He advocated for one collective management organisation for music artistes.

Mr Raymond Dokpesi, member of the Board of Trustees, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) called for the approval and operation of more collecting societies.

He noted that the monopoly of one society meant that broadcasters and artistes were at the mercy of such society.

Tony Okoroji, the Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), said the society aligned itself with the action of the commission.

He said if more societies were approved, it would affect the function of the industry and commercial music users would not know who to pay royalties to.

Mayo Ayilaran, the Director-General of MCSN, refuted the claim of the commission that it had not submitted the names and signatures of its members.

He noted that the commission did not advise the society on proper measures for registration as a collecting society.

He alleged that the commission did not operate in a fair and just manner.

Artistes, stakeholders and professional organisations made various submissions on their positions at the hearing.

While some supported a single collecting society, others called on the committee to direct the commission to license more societies, thereby liberalising the system.

Ali Ahmad, the Committee Chairman on Justice, called on all parties to remain calm and assured them that the house would make efforts to resolve the matter.

He said the committee report would be fair as it would ensure that the right thing was done to uphold the law.

The committee, however, adjourned indefinitely.



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