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Court awards N5.9bn against Multichoice for Copyright infringement

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has awarded the sum of N5.9 billion against Multichoice Nigeria Limited in an eight year old copyright infringement legal battle between it and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE.

In 2011, Multichoice had dragged the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE to court, but lost the case and the court upholding the counter-claim by the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE.

Multichoice were ordered to pay the sum of N5.9 billion to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE in a judgement  by Justice Mohammed Idris on Friday.

The judge quoted, “The court having delivered judgement this 19th day of January, 2018, striking out the plaintiff’s claims, it is hereby ordered as follows: That judgement is entered in favour of the defendant/counter-claimant in the following terms: 5,490,652,125.00 only as special damages.”

Separate sums of N200 million and N309 million were awarded by the court, as general and aggravated damages respectively against Multichoice in favour of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE.

The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE had, in its counter-claim, accused Multichoice of infringing on its copyright on 18 songs, including 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 UEFA Cup thematic music and UEFA Championship League thematic music.

“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,” the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/GTE argued in its counter-claim.