An attempt by the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) to renew its expired licence as a Collective Management Organisation (CMO) with the Copyright Commission of Nigeria (NCC) may have culminated in failure.
The licence which lapsed on April 2, 2020, a music industry source revealed, prompted MCSN engage every contact within its reach to effect a renewal without which it cannot legally function in the country as a CMO. Our source added that the process which MCSN had pursued for about five months included the enlisting of self-styled president of factional Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Pretty Okafor for the achievement of its pursuit which did not happen.
www.beats-onit gathered that in frustration, MCSN which has been falsely telling music users across the country that it possessed a subsisting CMO licence, began fawning on Mr. John Asein, the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission who is currently engulfed in widely reported multiple investigations of alleged corruption and abuse of power by him.
Mr. Asein and Mr. Mayowa Ayilaran, Director-General, MCSN, www.beats-onit.com learnt further, schemed to obtain a licence renewal for MCSN without recourse to the NCC Governing Board, which some how got leackef to some members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) leadership, as it swiftly connected with its attorney, Mr. James Ononiwu of the Lagos-based law firm, White Dove Solicitors who instantly sent petitions to the NCC governing board, various top government officials and President Muhammad Buhari.
Wrote Ononiwu in the petition dated September 15, 2020: “The status of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) with RC No. 64047 is currently listed by the CAC as “inactive”. We do not see how Mr. Asein can lawfully on behalf of the Federal Government give a mandate to an inactive company to go ahead and collect royalties on behalf of innocent owners of copyright in musical works and sound recordings in Nigeria. (Attached is CAC letter dated 20th August 2020).
“Mr. Mayowa Ayilaran has been Chief Executive Officer of MCSN since 29th July 1984 when MCSN was incorporated, an unbroken period of more than 36 years during which time MCSN has not distributed any meaningful royalty to any copyright owner, the very reason for the existence of a collective management organization. In blatant contravention of Article 3(c) of the CMO Regulations which is clear that the Chief Executive Officer of a CMO, shall not be a member, Mr. Ayilaran who is not a composer, a publisher or owner of copyright in sound recordings is not just a member of MCSN but a Director”.
“Also listed as Director of the company is Ambassador Segun Olusola who was never known to be a copyright owner in music and who died as far back as June 21, 2012. Also listed as Directors of MCSN are the likes of Zeb Ejiro, Mathias Obahiagbon, Victor Okhai and several others who are film makers with unknown ownership of copyright in any musical works or sound recordings. This is in clear contravention of Article 4 (1) of the Copyright Collective Management Organization Regulations 2007 which provides that membership of a CMO shall be open to copyright owners of the category of works or rights to which the organization is licensed to operate”.
Mr. Ononiwu emphasised that by the structure of the company, something was very wrong and that MCSN was not a CMO set up for the benefit of copyright owners but a scam operating to feather the nest of a few people.
He informed the officials to whom his petition was addressed that as recently as 2018, the NCC had at least seven different ongoing criminal cases at the Federal High Court Lagos against MCSN, but regertted that the seven criminal cases were withdrawn in strange circumstances.
Wondered he: “Until today, there has been no explanation as to why the cases were withdrawn and the collective management of copyright in Nigeria has been engulfed in confusion and acrimony as a result. Was the NCC misled or did the commission make a mistake in filing the actions? Unfortunately, the reasons for which the NCC filed the cases continue to prevail”.
According to Ononiwu, the nature of MCSN was the reason various leaderships of the NCC during the periods that Mr. Moses Ekpo, Dr. S.O. Williams and Prof Eyinna Nwauche were DGs, vehemently declined to approve MCSN as a CMO.
Stated Ononiwu: “When Prof Adebambo Adewopo was DG and MCSN was approved, the approval was withdrawn on the directives of President Olusegun Obasanjo”.
He therefore called on the Chairman and Governing Board of the NCC to rise to the occasion; do their patriotic duty for which the Board was set up; halt the ongoing scheme to hurriedly renew the expired approval of Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) without the knowledge, evaluation or input of the NCC Governing Board and properly investigate the recurring issues so that innocent copyright owners and users in Nigeria are not continuously short changed.
www.beats-onit.com reached out to top officials of MCSN for their reaction though call and WhatsApp. Mr. Mayowa Ayilran, Director-General, MCSN, replid that he would give detailed response on Monday to the issues raised, as it was weekend and they were not in the office to access the facts.
Said he: “I am not presently with the facts to respond as it is weekend and we are not in the office. I shall give you a detailed response on Monday”.