Monday, 20 February 2017

Afro Leo

Putting a price on creativity- Nigerian musos insist on their rights

The African music scene is thriving and popular artists are set to share in a projected R309 million annual earning in 2019 on digital formats alone.

While artists on the continent compose lyrics to feed avid consumers, watchdogs are having to make a song and dance about telecoms companies using their tunes illegally.

This is very much the case in Nigeria where a lawsuit filed last year has been touted as the biggest copyright infringement in Africa.

In May 2016, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) took MTN to court over alleged infringements on musical copyrights, claiming 16 Billion Naira (around R700M) in damages.

According to COSON’s claim, MTN infringed copyrights in COSON’s musical and sound recordings in MTN Friendship, Connect and Walk In Centres across Nigeria.

The claims also extended to MTN road shows, various MTN Music Concerts, Festivals, and award Shows, as well as platforms such as mobile radio and product activations.

A recent study of the African entertainment sector by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) accountants showed rapid earnings growth in many African countries, fuelled largely by live performances by local artists.

PwC’s Entertainment and Media outlook 2017 says that digital will account for the majority of spending on recorded music in Africa in 2019. According to the authors, the Nigerian music industry will grow at a projected 13% annually.

“Healthy growth in music revenues in Nigeria. Nigeria experienced a 3.8% rise in total music revenue in 2014 to US$51 million, up from US$50 million in 2013, as digital music began to make a larger impact. Annual revenue is forecast to grow by an estimated CAGR of 11.3% to reach US$88 million in 2019.”

Thirty-six year old D’Banj, also known as The Kokomaster, is believed to be the wealthiest musician in the country, followed by TuFace Idibia and Yemi Alade.

The PwC study states that download sales peaked in 2015 and revenue from consumer spending on physical formats would stand at R302 million in 2019, less than half the revenue figure in 2014. Lower ringback tone sales and a move to access over ownership is likely to reduce the share to just 14% in 2019. attribute the boost in intellectual rights in the entertainment sector to a rising unemployment.

More Nigerian youths have discovered their creative talents and are now earning a living by creating intellectual and artistic works. International trade between Nigeria and other countries has contributed to the influx of international artistic works into the market. It is inevitable that owners of these works will only get their due return if they share in proceeds or obtain a fair compensation for their works,” says Emmanuel Ekpenyong writing on the site, adding that this can only be enforced if the work is actually registered with the copyright commission or COSON.

The Copyright society of Nigeria (COSON) is a collective management organization that registers artists and acts as the industry watchdog.

The Nigerian copyright  law, CAP C28 says that work eligible for copyright includes literary, musical and artistic works, cinematography films, sound recordings and broadcast material. The copyright can be conferred on the author who is domiciled in Nigeria or a citizen of the country.

COSON and MTN met out of court in December 2016, mediated by Prof Bankole Sodipo, in a bid to agree on a mediated settlement. Speaking after the meeting, COSON’s chair Tony Okoroji said a framework had been agreed upon in which to resolve the matter.

The meeting also agreed that all parties and organisations associated with them should cease all adversarial actions henceforth to ensure that there is a conducive environment for the resolution. When we are done, every creative person and investor in the Nigerian music industry will benefit immensely from the engagement,” said Okoroji.

Funso Aina, spokesperson for MTN Nigeria, said the matter is still in court at its preliminary stage. 
"MTN has filed a defence against the action. On a related note, discussions are still ongoing between parties under the supervision of a mediator on a possible amicable resolution. The court adjourned the matter to April 4, in order for parties to report to the court on status of settlement discussions."

There is more on copyright enforcement in Nigeria from Afro-IP this week. Chijioke Ifeoma Okorie will be publishing a much awaited post on the judgment in Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd v Nigerian Copyright Commission. Stay tuned.

Afro Leo

Afro Leo

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