The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has made it clear to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) that the name, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), was illegally approved ab initio.
In a judgment delivered on March 25, 2020 in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/274/2010 and instituted by Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) against COSON, CAC and the Attorney General of Federation (AGF), Justice Saliu Saidu held that, “It’s a misnomer to give the name which the plaintiff had applied to register or similar to what the plaintiff seeks to register by the defendant (COSON) on 23rd November, 2009 when the time allowed for the plaintiff to complete their registration had not expired.”
The court further held that the first defendant’s name was illegally approved and hence cannot lay claim to the name Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte. Among the further orders given by the court are that “the 2nd defendant (CAC) acted improperly and illegally in approving an application by the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS) to process the change of name from PMRS to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) at a time when the same CAC had reserved the very same Copyright Society of Nigeria for use by some members of the plaintiff (MCSN) for themselves and on behalf of the plaintiff.
“That the AGF and CAC acted improperly and illegally in granting approval to PMRS to process the change of name to COSON having regard to the pendency of the plaintiff’s petition to them dated November 13th, 2009.
“That an organisation whose genre of copyright is restricted to musical rights could not legally be permitted to use the name, ‘Copyright Society of Nigeria’ being a term encompassing rights arising from literature, art, music, drama, cinematography, broadcast architecture, computer programmes and so on.
“That the 2nd and 3rd defendants (CAC & AGF) their servants, privies, agents and howsoever are restrained from using or continuing to use Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte. That the 2nd and 3rd defendants are directed to take necessary steps to cancel, change, alter or rescind any steps it may have taken towards effecting the change and registration of defendant’s name as Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd /Gte and that the 1st defendant (COSON), its members, servants, privies, agents or howsoever are restrained from using or continuing to use Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte.”
Reacting to the judgment, the Chief Executive Officer of MCSN, Mayo Ayilaran said the decision of the court means that impunity does not pay. “No matter how long lies are peddled in the public space, truth will always catch up with it. Ten years ago when this fraudulent attempt to supplant MCSN was made, we warned the public especially consumers and creators of music, to beware. Blinded by the hatred to supplant MCSN at all cost, we always knew their house cards could never stand the scrutiny of the law. And the Federal High Court has just vindicated us,” he said.
Ayilaran was emphatic that the implication of the judgment is that COSON, in the eyes of the law, had never existed and therefore any contract signed with that name is null and void.
On the recent decision of COSON to share N50 million to musicians on its register in order to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown, MCSN contends that the action smells of illegitimacy and criminality. “Ordinarily, this would have been a very laudable and commendable gesture but for a company which a court of competent jurisdiction has declared illegal and with other pending actions bothering on accountability hanging on the defunct company and its managers; the intention and action smell of serious illegitimacy and criminality,” MCSN stated.