Members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) this Tuesday, December 15, 2015, approved the distribution of a record N140 million naira in copyright royalties to members and affiliates as proposed by the Board of the society which collects royalties for the use musical works and sound recordings in the country. The unanimous approval of the proposed distribution took place at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) of COSON held at the Oranmiyan Hall, Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja. Following the approval, several members of COSON at the venue confirmed that shortly after the approval, they received alerts from their banks confirming that their royalties had just been paid.
For the Extra Ordinary General Meeting, the gaily dressed musicians, young and old from across the country thronged Lagos Airport Hotel’s Oramiyan Hall in a celebratory mood.
In his address which was punctuated with intermittent applause, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji thanked the members for their continuous support of the society since its inception. He said that the Extra-Ordinary General Meetings which have been held every year in the month of December is not a requirement of the law or COSON’s Articles of Association but an essential element in the desire to go the extra mile to bring together the members of COSON during the end of year period, a period of goodwill so that as a family, the members can break bread, share a drink and a song and be updated on the state of COSON. According to him, the EGM also gives COSON members an opportunity to ask questions and obtain answers from those who manage the society on their behalf so that COSON can march on as one unit.
In the speech hinged on the need for COSON to at all times maintain full and continued transparency and accountability, Chief Okoroji said “It is my belief that the policies of putting our distribution proposals before our members and seeking your mandate before distributions are undertaken have helped to bring about confidence within the membership and have ensured the stability that COSON has enjoyed. I believe that all of us here have an obligation to tell everyone that a Nigerian organization called COSON is working and that COSON is 100% transparent and professional. This is necessary to ensure that our society continues to enjoy the right kind of confidence that gives it the momentum to continue to serve you and your children for many years to come”
Continuing, Chief Okoroji said, “At COSON, we are constantly working hard to improve our service delivery. During the year, COSON began the digital monitoring of music played by over 90 broadcast stations across the country. By this development, COSON which has become one of Africa’s most respected collective management organizations now has at its disposal access to empirical evidence of every song played by the said broadcast stations and similar users of music across the Nigerian nation. This is providing critical information necessary for licensing and accurate distribution of royalties.
“In the attempt to expand our income base, we have appointed licensing consultants across the country. These consultants face tremendous challenges as there are many in our country who still do not want to accept that the era of free music is gone. For instance, in Edo State, the licensing activities of COSON have been challenged by a significant gang which has filed multiple court actions against the society, our consultants and the Police working with COSON.
“The harder they come, the harder they fall. We have just received good news that as a result of the untiring efforts of our lawyers, the Federal High Court in Benin just yesterday threw out one of the big cases in which the authority of COSON to collect royalties was being vigorously challenged. The court robustly reaffirmed the mandate of COSON under the law to collect royalties on behalf of our members and affiliates from any one or group of persons deploying music in a public or commercial setting. The court also affirmed our right to enforce the compliance of that mandate”.
Following his speech, Chief Okoroji asked if there was any one in the over flowing hall who had been asked to pay any money to join COSON. Not one hand went up. He then asked if there was any member of COSON who had ever been requested to pay any dues or subscription. No one raised his hand. He then asked if there was a COSON member present from whom anyone had requested any money to ensure that such a member received his or her royalties. Again, no one raised his or her hand. Finally, he asked if there was a COSON member present who had not received any royalty due to him or her in the several distributions undertaken by COSON. A handful of people raised their hands. Upon enquiry, it was found that these were members who had submitted wrong bank details to COSON and whose royalties had been remitted and returned to the COSON account. They were asked to immediately reconcile their records and every naira due to them would be received immediately.
During the long question and answer session that followed Chief Okoroji’s address, encomium and prayers were poured on the Chairman, the Board, the Management and the society. Many of the members confessed that they did not think that they would be alive to witness an organization like COSON in the Nigerian music industry with such level of transparency, professionalism and stability.
Speaking on the 2015 royalty distribution, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji said, “There is no gainsaying that COSON has continued to be on top of its game. Since our approval, COSON has never failed for even for one year to distribute royalties to hardworking members and affiliates. Even in the face of the harsh economic down turn, we remain committed to the growth of our industry and COSON will continue to live up to her mandate. This is one Nigerian organization that is working and working very well”.
Also commenting, female artiste and COSON Board member, Azeezat Allen said, “It is that time of the year again when COSON members are rewarded for their hard work and great contributions to our nation. I know that there may be many out there watching out to see if COSON will ‘do it’ again this year. We have never failed on our promise to our members and affiliates and we will not at any time. COSON is here to stay and we shall deliver at all times”.
The annual distribution by COSON is in line with the society’s core mandate to license the use of music and to distribute royalties to members and COSON has successfully done this every year since its approval by the government of Nigeria in 2010.