First Bank Nigerian Plc, one of Nigeriaâ€™s leading banks is currently enmeshed in a 700 million naira (over four million dollars) copyright infringement and exploitation law suit filed by Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
First Bank has been accused of not applying for or secure a license or any authorization whatsoever before exploiting, communicating to the public, publishing and deploying the musical works and sound recordings of its members and assignors as included in, reproduced and contained in the Sights and Sounds of Carnival Calabar and deployed by First Bank Plc in its marketing, promotion and advertising.
In a sitting held at the Federal High Court, suit No. FHC/CS/L/530/2014 filed on behalf of COSON by Lagos IP lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige of Creative Legal, Seun Omotoba & Co, COSON asked for the award of seven hundred million naira in unpaid royalties and damages against First Bank Plc for copyright infringement with respect to the unauthorized use of several musical works and sound recordings communicated to the public, deployed and exploited as marketing, promotional and advertising materials by First Bank Plc and contained in Sights and Sounds of Carnival Calabar.
Speaking on the development, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said, â€˜Let it be heard loud and clear, that COSON is determined to sanitize the copyright environment in Nigeria. No one is too big or too small to abide by the law. A lot of young Nigerians are investing their talents, time and money in creating the music which is making Nigeria famous across the world and they deserve to be respected. For anyone to exploit their creative ingenuity, the person must get appropriate permission. If a musician takes a loan from a bank without paying back, the bank will chase the musician to the ends of the world to recover the loan. What right does a bank have to use the property of the musician without payment or authorization?â€™â€™
Also reacting on the development, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, said, â€œIs it not hard to imagine why after being aware of the appropriate steps to take in the public communication of music, some people just find a way to kick against the law? Music is an investment and nobody treats lightly his investment. COSON will continue to ensure that the music industry in Nigeria is beneficial to all investors, foreign or local. We will see to it that the music pays no matter what tactics some music users may try to deploy in evading their obligationsâ€.
Information reaching societyreelnews, further reveal that First Bank Nigeria Plc prior to the court proceedings ignored COSONâ€™s attempt to get their attention and resolve the issue. The bank is alleged to have handled the Copyright organisation like a dog without teeth, which further infuriated them.
All efforts to speak with the Head of Corporate Communications, First Bank proved abortive as the numbers were not reachable.