MTN Vs Baba 2010: Copyright Commission Wades Into Alleged Copyright Infringement Battle | Independent Newspapers Limited
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MTN Vs Baba 2010: Copyright Commission Wades Into Alleged Copyright Infringement Battle

Posted: Sep 12, 2015 at 12:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, has stepped into the ongoing alleged copyright infringement issue between mobile telecommunications firm MTN Nigeria and Abuja based music artiste Omenuwoma Okson Dovie popularly called Baba 2010.

A meeting was called between the warring parties at the commission’s office in Abuja last week but a resolution has not been reached yet.

However, MTN in a letter dated August 25 and signed by Obiageli Maduka, the company’s Commercial Legal Advisor called on the lawyers of Baba 2010 Igelige & Associates, an Abuja and Delta State based law firm, to “to delay further action” to enable MTN “revert to you our findings.”

Maduka said that MTN would “respond to you as soon as possible”. The Commercial Legal Advisor assured in the letter titled: “Re: Alleged Infringement of Copy Right of Omenuwoma Okson Dovie” that “further investigations” are being carried out on the matter. “We have noticed the claims in your letter and are currently conducting further investigations into the matter.”

It would be recalled that Baba 2010 last week wrote to MTN threatening to sue them to court over alleged unauthorized use of his songs as Caller Tunes.

In a letter dated August 6 and signed by Rockson. A Igelige of Felix, Igelige & Associates, lawyers of Baba 2010 and addressed to Mr. Michael Ikpoki, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria Limited, the artiste is demanding a N500, 000, 000 compensation for the alleged violation of copyright to four of his original musical compositions and recordings, including infringement of his moral rights in one of the compositions.

“For about three years or more, MTN has been selling four songs, to wit ‘Gentleman,’ ‘Omotena,’ ‘Twisted,’ and ‘Unity Song,’ all original compositions of Baba 2010 contained in his Compact Disc album entitled ‘Twisted’, released in 2005, in the form of caller tunes and, or, ringtones to its subscribers. The songs are respectively coded  001087 (“Gentleman”), 001088 (“Omotena”), 001089 (“Twisted”), and 001090 (“Unity Song”), stored electronically, reproduced and offered to MTN’s subscribers upon the payment of N50 each for one month, subject to another N50 monthly renewal charge. The musical works can also be downloaded, on the specified terms, onto a subscriber’s mobile phone by sending the relevant code to the number 4100 designated for the purpose by MTN,” the letter read.

Igelige, a University of Westminster trained lawyer said that the refusal of MTN to obtain proper permission from the artiste constituted a breach of his copyright: “By  not  obtaining  copyright  owner  Baba  2010’s  prior  permission  or  licence before engaging repeatedly in the aforementioned act of appropriating and selling the works, MTN’s conduct  constitutes  a  flagrant  and deliberate  infringement of  copyright.  It also amounts to stealing and willful deprivation with the intent to unjustly enrich itself by denying copyright owner Baba 2010 the legitimate fruits of his labour, thereby inflicting hardship on him.”

Consequent upon that, copyright owner  Baba  2010  has  demanded  that  MTN  rectify  this infringement by taking the following steps: “That MTN cease and desist forthwith from further infringing on his  copyright to the aforementioned musical works; that MTN pay to him the sum of  N500,000,000 (Five hundred million naira)  for  the unauthorized commercial and also derogatory use of his musical work; That MTN enter into an agreement/contract with him for future use of his copyrighted musical works; That MTN take immediate steps to restore the proper title of the work originally named “Buy Africa” (code 001090) but which MTN misnamed and is selling to its subscribers as “Unity Song,” thereby derogating from the original work of that title.”

The artiste’s lawyers gave a 14-day notice to MTN to take these “reconciliatory, restorative  and  compensatory  actions  failing  which  he  shall  take  all  proper  steps  to  seek remedy, including  legal  action  for  injunctive  relief,  criminal  charges  and  damages,  without further notice to MTN.”

This will not be the first time MTN is embroiled in an alleged copyright infringement issue with a Nigerian artiste. Some couple of years ago, two popular artistes, Father U-Turn and Beautiful Nubia was up in arms with the telecommunications firm over alleged unauthorized use of their works as Caller Tunes.

In 2013, Afro hip hop star Paul Play Dairo locked horns with MTN over alleged unauthorized use of his hit song, ‘Angel of my Life’ as a Caller Tune.