Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Guinness: Broiled and Embroiled

guinness cc by codaAn ongoing suit against famed brewery Guinness before the Federal High Court of Nigeria has moved from Justice Shaibu to Justice Archibong. Both the original and current justice on the case have experience handling copyright infringement suits, and both have previously heard cases brought by the plaintiff in this case, Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN).

Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) brought suit against Guinness alleging infringement of musical works in which MCSN holds the rights. Business World, which reported on the case does not say what acts of infringement are alleged, whether Guinness used musical works in advertising, hosted concerts or some other type of infringing act.

Guinness denies any infringement. According to Business World, Guinness claims at the time of the alleged infringement MCSN was not licensed to operate as a collecting society in Nigeria. This is a defense that has worked for other companies in the past. [This defense stems from the long-lasting dispute between MCSN and Performing Musicians Rights Society (PMRS) over who has the authority to collect music royalties in Nigeria. (For more on the history of the dispute, see here; For information on the dispute in the past few months, see allAfrica.com.]

Guinness appears not to be too concerned with the suit in their statement, but then it is rather standard practice for defendants to assure everyone that the suit against them is baseless. Perhaps the company may need to focus right now on recovering from the Dublin factory fire.

Photo credit: “Guinness Pint” cc-by coda

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