The Copyrights Society of Nigeria (COSON), has filed several lawsuit against TV stations, radio stations and hotels demanding that they pay royalties for playing songs by Nigerian artist- especially those registered under them.

Two days ago however, the Broadcasting Society of Nigeria (BON) and the Independent Broadcasting Society of Nigeria, IBAN announced the ban of all Nigerian artists registered with COSON over what the organisation termed “arbitrary levying of broadcast stations by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON)”, the government’s licensed collecting society.

The two bodies said they were constrained to take this step principally as “a result of COSON’s attitude of antagonism and harassment under the leadership of Tony Okoroji (COSON Chairman)”.

COSON has battled with  DAAR Communications Plc, owners of RayPower FM, Faaji FM and Africa Independent Televison (AIT). It has also negotiated payment with many, among them DStv, Silverbird and Cool FM.

The musicians, whose works were banned from airplay include TuFace Idibia, D’Banj, Inyanya, Olamide, Dr. Sid, Sammie Okposo, Banky W, Wizkid, MI, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Olu Maintain, 9ice, Sunny Neji, Flavour, Chidinma, Rugged Man, Keffee, Midnite Crew, Eldee De Don, Azeezat, Jazzman Olofin, KC Presh, X Project, Asha, Konga and African China.

Among others are Majek Fashek, J. Martins, Omawunmi, Yinka Ayefele, Ebenezer Obey, Victor Uwaifo, Onyeka Onwenu, Owen Gee, Dekunle Fuji, Lord of Ajasa, Zoolezoo, Muma Gee, ID Cabassa, Klever J, Terry G, Nomoreloss, Mike Okri, Weird MC, Mode 9, Timaya, Sound Sultan, Waje, Mo’Cheddah, Slam, Djinee, Solid Star, Dan Maraya Jos, Stella Monye, Daniel Wilson, Alex Zitto, Sir Shina Peters, Ras Kimono, Wale Thompson, Kollington Ayinla, Adewale Ayuba, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal and Tim Godfrey.

A statement by IBAN Secretary, Mr. Guy Murray Bruce, said the ban takes immediate effect.

Responding to the news of the ban, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, said he felt like weeping, lamenting that it is only in Nigeria that this can take place. He said the only sin COSON has committed was going to court to compel broadcasting stations to pay royalties.

Okoroji expressed regret that there is a common attitudinal disregard for intellectual property right in the country. He said his organisation has read with amusement the empty threat by the leadership of BON that its affiliate stations would no longer play the music of Nigerian citizens on Nigerian stations because Nigerian musicians are asking for their right to be paid copyright royalties for the exploitation of their music as is done in every country in the world.

“The threat by the leadership of BON reveals the crass ignorance with which some members of BON have been misled and steered into easily avoidable crisis. For many years, this people have used ‘divide and rule’ tactics and threats to weaken the music industry and ensure that the industry did not effectively challenge its exploitation,”  -Okoroji

“No person or organisation, particularly a collection society such as COSON has a monopoly of authority over any other…IBAN and BON have the utmost respect for Nigerian artistes in their individual and collective capacities and have indeed contributed more than any known institution to the promotion of Nigerian music and the development of the entertainment industry as a whole,”

In a statement released by the President and Secretary of IBAN, Sonny Adun and Guy Murray Bruce, they stated that it is indeed revealing that IBAN/BON people who pretend to be leaders of the broadcast industry in Nigeria believe that they can play music belonging to foreign nationals for free in Nigeria without any consequence.

“For their information, by the reciprocal representation agreements entered into between COSON and several collective management organisations around the world and the various copyright conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory, every broadcast station in Nigeria is bound to pay copyright royalties for foreign music as it must for the music belonging to Nigerians. Failure to pay exposes Nigeria to both economic and diplomatic sanctions.

COSON has met with Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and practically every major broadcasting network in Nigeria. While there are broadcasting stations that have reached agreements with COSON and are broadcasting music comfortably as required by law, some other stations have allowed themselves to be deceived by the empty boast of people who have told them that they can ‘handle’ COSON,” -Okoroji

But IBAN and BON also said their members are ready and willing to pay royalties for works used but will not be railroaded into arbitrarily imposed and concocted fees which are not based on any agreeable and verifiable tariff and standards.

“In the circumstance, we are therefore taking steps in liaison with important stakeholders in the country to address and hopefully come to a fair and reasonable resolution of this COSON induced crises,”  -IBAN/BON.

The NBC boss is said to have called for a negotiated settlement, wondering how the stations can do away with works of the affected artistes who are the best in Nigeria and still meet up with requirement of NBC.