A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Nigeria has ordered MultiChoice Nigeria Limited to pay Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE MCSN the sum of N6 billion as damages for copyright infringement.
MultiChoice had in 2011 dragged the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE before the court, but in a dramatic turn of event, MultiChoice did not only lost the case, the court also upheld the counter-claim filed by the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE.
In a judgment delivered by the presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, declared that “The court having delivered judgment striking out the MultiChoice’s claims, hereby ordered as follows: That judgment is entered in favour of the defendant/counter-claimant in the following terms: 5,490,652,125.00 only as special damages comprising of: N4,157,460,500.000 which became due and collectable from 6th January 2006 to January 2012, inclusive of Value Added Tax of N197,950,500 payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria through Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria LTD/GTE.
The court also awarded separate sums of N200million and N309million as general and aggravated damages respectively against MultiChoice in favour of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE.
The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE had, in its counter-claim, accused MultiChoice of infringing on its copyright on 18 songs, including Konko Below and Never Far Away by Nigerian masked musician, Bisade Ologunde, alias Lagbaja.
The other songs, which the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE accused MultiChoice of using without lawful permission included UEFA Cup thematic music and UEFA Championship League thematic music.
“MultiChoice was alleged to have infringed on the copyright of the musical works in the course of and to promote their businesses and to make profit without the authority or licence of the Musical copyright society of Nigeria and the society has suffered loss and damage.
“MultiChoice was alleged to have bluntly refused or neglected to voluntarily apply for and obtain the permission of the counter-claimant before deploying the musical works of the Musical copyright on repertoire into the its broadcasting activities.
“The defendant has continued to infringe upon the works and has threatened to do so continually unless restrained by the honourable court.
“By its acts of infringement aforesaid, well knowing that it was thereby infringing the copyright of the MCSN, the defendant has acted in flagrant disregard of the rights of the counter-claimant. On this premise, the MCSN is entitled to and claim from the defendant additional damages pursuant to Section 16(4) of the Copyright Act 2004,” the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE argued in its counter-claim.