The attempt by Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) to be joined in the class action suit brought by COSON against the broadcast industry in Nigeria was dealt a deadly blow this Tuesday, December 10 2019 as Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, dismissed the MCSN application for joinder, describing MCSN as “a restless interloper and a vexatious intervener”
It will be recalled that COSON on the 27th of March, 2019 brought a class action suit against all broadcasting stations in the country who have continued to deploy musical works and sound recordings in the COSON repertoire without obtaining a COSON licence or paying any copyright royalty to the nation’s frontline CMO for musical works and sound recordings.
The Principal issue raised by COSON in its Originating Summons is whether a letter by the Nigerian Copyright Commission to COSON dated 30th of April 2018 or any other such letter or statement, in the context of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, avails the broadcasting stations the right to compulsorily acquire the use of the intellectual property in the repertoire of COSON without obtaining any license or paying any royalty to COSON.
Shortly after the processes in the class action suit were published as directed by the court, MCSN brought an application to be joined in the suit, describing itself as an interested party.
In her affidavit opposing the application of MCSN to be joined, the COSON General Counsel, Miss Simi Wash Pam, deposed to the fact that MCSN is not a broadcaster and is not a member of the class already certified by the court.
She said that the subject matters of the suit are musical works and sound recordings the copyright of which is owned by any member of COSON, assigned to COSON or managed by COSON by reason of any reciprocal representation agreement with COSON and that the suit has nothing to do with musical works or sound recordings owned by anyone else including MCSN. She was emphatic that MCSN is not an interested party in the suit but a meddlesome interloper seeking to join the suit with the intent of scuttling it.
Miss Wash-Pam concluded that the application of MCSN to be joined in the suit was brought in bad faith and asked the Court in the interest of justice to deny the MCSN application.
Reacting to the decision of Justice Liman, COSON lawyer, Mr. James Ononiwu of Whitedove Solicitors, who was in court when the decision was read, described Justice Liman’s reasoning as “sound and in line with common sense, the rules of court and a litany of decided cases”. He, once again, cautioned anyone intent on messing around with the constitutional rights of COSON and its members and affiliates that COSON will take on such a person “totally, completely, comprehensively and without any fear whatsoever”.