Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos has awarded a total of N5.9 billion as damages against Multichoice Nigeria Limited for infringing on the rights of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE.
MultiChoice and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE have been locked in litigation over copyright infringement issues since 2011.
The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE had, in its counter-claim, accused Multichoice of infringing on its copyright on 18 songs, among which are; 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; the UEFA Cup thematic music and UEFA Champions League thematic music.
It further argued that the action of MultiChoice has occasioned serious losses and damages on its businesses.
The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE further disclosed in its counter-claim that; “The defendant to the counter-claim did each of these acts in the course of and to promote their businesses and to make profit without the authority or licence of the counter-claimant and the counter-claimant has suffered loss and damage.
“The defendant to the counter-claim bluntly refused or neglected to voluntarily apply for and obtain the permission of the counter-claimant before deploying the musical works of the counter-claimant’s repertoire into the defendant’s broadcasting activities.
“The defendant has continued to infringe upon the works and has threatened to do so continually unless restrained by this honourable court.
“By its acts of infringement aforesaid, well knowing that it was thereby infringing the copyright of the counter-claimant, the defendant has acted in flagrant disregard of the rights of the counter-claimant.
“On this premise, the counter-claimant is entitled to and claim from the defendant additional damages pursuant to Section 16(4) of the Copyright Act 2004,”
In a judgement last Friday, Justice Idris while upholding the counter-claims of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE ordered MultiChoice to pay it a total sum of N5.9 billion.
The judge held:“The court having delivered judgement this 19th day of January, 2018, striking out the plaintiff’s claims, it is 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”.
The court also awarded separate sums of N200 million and 309 million as general and aggravated damages respectively against Multichoice in favour of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd./GTE.