African Nations Rife With Illegitimate Collection Societies: Nigeria Files Criminal Complaint Against COSON
from the collecting-crimes dept
You may recall that we have discussed the complete chaos that is copyright collection societies in Kenya over the past few years. At issue in Kenya is that the country has multiple collection societies, which are overseen by a government sanctioned body that can request to look at their books to make sure artists are being paid appropriately, and officially licenses the collection societies themselves. Some of those collection groups have apparently not felt the need to respond to requests for oversight, leading the government to pull or not renew their licenses. Instead of being the end of the story, a number of those collection societies continue to threaten people and collect royalties anyway, acting essentially as an illegal extortion outfit.
Kenya is not the only African nation going through this, it seems. Across the continent on the opposite coast, the Nigerian Copyright Commission has been going through similar issues, specifically with a collection group called COSON.
The Nigerian Copyright Commission has filed a criminal charge against the Copyright Society of Nigeria, its Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, and principal officers for carrying out the duties of a collecting society without the approval of the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
The NCC, in a statement signed by its Director-General, Afam Ezekude, and made available to our correspondent on Tuesday, said, “In Charge No FHC/L/338C/18, filed on October 8, 2018 at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, the accused persons were alleged to have performed the duties of a collecting Society by demanding and collecting royalties from Noah’s Ark of 9 Sowemimo Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.”
The commission also accused COSON of carrying on the business of negotiating and granting licences on behalf of copyright owners without its approval, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under sections 39 (4), (5) and (6) of the Copyright Act Cap C 28 Laws of the Federation of Nigerian 2004.
This is now becoming a trend, with collection societies in several African nations simply and rather brazenly carrying on the business of shaking down businesses for music licensing fees, even beyond the point of their being legally allowed to do so. Frankly, given the copyright collection industry, this is not a huge leap to take. These societies already have many of the hallmarks of extortion rings, with their undercover “patrons” at businesses and their threat letters that might as well begin with, “Nice business you have there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
But what this really shows, more than anything else, is how many of these copyright collection groups are devoid of any interest in the law, in the artists they represent, or in acting with even a modicum of ethical standards. Instead, these are money-making operations, and that money-making doesn’t stop just because the law says they have to.