The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has suspended the Operating Licence of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) as a Collective Management Organisation for Music and Sound Recordings.
The development, according to a press statement issued by Ijeoma Egbunike, Assistant Director/Head Public Affairs on behalf of the Director-General of the commission, Afam Ezekude, is sequel to the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
The statement further revealed that the suspension is in line with the provision of Regulation 19 (2) of the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulation 2007.
Mr Ezekude also disclosed in the statement that the “Suspension is a follow-up to the continued failure and/or refusals of COSON to carry out the directive of the Commission issued vide its letter dated February 19, 2018.”
The DG, had earlier conveyed the decision of the Commission to the General Manager of COSON, in a letter dated April 30, 2018.
According to the letter, COSON is to henceforth desist from negotiating and granting Copyright Licences, collecting royalties on behalf of copyright owners, or otherwise performing any functions of a Collective Management Organisation, except otherwise directed by the commission.
The commission in a separate letter dated May 3, 2018 also directed the management of COSON to refrain from making further withdrawals or expenses from the funds of COSON, within the period of suspension, except for purposes of meeting personnel emoluments. Other expenses of COSON, outside personnel emolument may however be made upon permission from the Director-General of the commission.
“Henceforth, the General Manager of COSON has been directed to forward to the Director-General, NCC, within 7 days, details of all bank accounts operated by COSON,” the letter reads.
The DG said, the latter directive became necessary in view of the need to safeguard funds belonging to owners of Copyright in Music and Sound Recordings, whose works are administered by COSON, and to enable the commission undertake necessary compliance checks in line with relevant provisions of the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulations 2007.
It would be recalled that the commission received a petition from some members of the Governing Board of COSON, requesting the commission to intervene and investigate the events at the Extra Ordinary General Meeting of COSON held on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. After due consideration of the petition, the commission issued directives to the Management of COSON, not to implement certain decisions irregularly taken at the extraordinary General Meeting held on December 19, 2017, which were ostensibly in breach of statutory provisions and regulations guiding the operations of COSON.
Following the issuance of the directive, the commission received a letter dated February 23, 2018 signed by the General Manager of COSON, indicating clearly the unwillingness of management of COSON to comply with the directive of the commission. Other activities of management of COSON which are glaring in the public domain have also confirmed the refusal of the management to comply with the directive of the commission as it is obliged to do under relevant laws and regulation guiding its operations.
Mr Ezekude observed that the development in its entirety does not augur well for the development of Copyright administration in Nigeria. “Aside undermining the efficient administration of COSON to the utter disadvantage of authors and right owners in Music Industry, the continuing defiance of COSON management to the directive of the commission is a clear indication of its unwillingness to operate within the framework of the Copyright Act and Regulations guiding operations of Collective Management Organisations in Nigeria, for which there are clear consequences and sanctions.
The commission has warned management of COSON to take necessary steps to comply with the directives of the commission failing which further sanctions may be imposed on it in accordance with the provisions of the law.
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