Music Publishers Drags COSON To Court Over Distribution Policy

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Music Publishers Association of Nigeria (MPAN) has approached the Federal High court, Ikoyi to challenge the distribution practice of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).

In a statement issued by Isioma Idigbe, Secretary of MPAN, the legal action could completely redefine the investment environment for music copyright related businesses by assuring music copyright investors of an environment better suited to deliver profitable returns on investment.
Below is the statement

MPAN CHALLENGES COSON’S DISTRIBUTION POLICY IN COURT, SEEKS TO INCREASE ROYALTIES DISTRIBUTED TO MEMBERS

A legal action, which may lead to an extremely important change in the way Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (COSON) distributes royalties, has been caused to be filed at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, by Music Publishers Association of Nigeria (MPAN). The legal action could completely redefine the investment environment for music copyright related businesses by assuring music copyright investors of an environment better suited to deliver profitable returns on investment.

MPAN is the single largest body of music copyright owners in Nigeria, and is made up of owners of interests in copyright catalogues comprised of tens of thousands of musical works, from the 1960s to 2019, locally and internationally. Universal Music, one of the biggest investors in music copyright worldwide; Premier Music Publishing, the owner of perhaps the very largest evergreen music copyright catalogue in Nigeria; Green Light Music Publishing, owner of the largest producer-composer copyright interests in Nigeria; the hugely popular The Plug; and Chocolate City, the oldest, most successful, on-going, music business with huge local and international partnerships and investments in copyright development and acquisitions, all have the honor of currently leading MPAN.

As a member of the International Confederation of Music Publishers, and a membership comprised of businesses with the largest collective stakes in the Nigerian music copyright space, MPAN has examined the investment environment for music copyright in Nigeria and come to a conclusion that important changes must be made to encourage an inflow of local and foreign investment into the Nigerian music industry, without which the true financial potentials of the industry could not be realized and without which the careers, dreams and sustainable welfare of the Nigerian musician could not be provided for.

MPAN is convinced that a practice of General Distribution that reportedly is the giving of a few tens of thousands of Naira to thousands of members of COSON yearly without any regard to any indices of productivity, investment or other value, and which is considered by some as a welfare system for musicians, is neither sustainable nor truly helpful to the music industry. Rather, MPAN supports fully utilizing the COSON Music Foundation for verified welfare needs of musicians as provided in the COSON Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1418/19 seeks to declare as illegal, and thus abolish COSON’s practice of General Distribution, thereby freeing and making more funds available for increased (Specific) royalty distribution to deserving COSON members. It should be recalled that MPAN’s petition seeking to reduce General Distribution to business-friendly limits is pending before the Copyright regulator, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

In a related development, MPAN and Musical Copyright Society, Nigeria Ltd/Gte (MCSN) are having discussions on the General Distribution subject. Some progress has been made but MPAN has also informed Music Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (MCSN) of the possibility that its General Distribution policy may also be a subject of challenge in court.
MPAN remains committed to a fairer and more effective copyright system for all, and will be always happy to work with all stakeholders. MPAN also hopes for a change of the attitude which tends to suggest that COSON may be unwilling to share with MPAN certain distribution data – not minding that members of MPAN are largely members of COSON, and not minding that the data sought could have been ordinarily available on COSON’s website. MPAN hopes for better cooperation with all stakeholders towards building a better Nigerian music industry.

Signed by:
Isioma Idigbe (Secretary)

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