Collective management of rights is an important but controversial and contested area in copyright administration in Nigeria. The inception of the Collective Management Organisation (CMO) dates back to 1850 when the first CMO was established in France.
Collective Management Organisations serve as agents for their members who voluntarily relinquish their authority to collectives to enter licensing agreements for their works or they can operate as an assignee of copyrights.
It is worthy of note, that there are six basic rights protected by Collective Management Organisations, ranging from; Rights to public performances, Rights of broadcasting, mechanical reproduction rights, and related rights of producers and broadcasters.
One essential duty of a Collective Management Organisation is to combat repeat violators and litigate for damages, an example of this is the litigation between BMI and Pandora over the percentage of revenue artists receives.
- Collective Management Organization in Nigeria
Nigeria as a country operates a single Collective Management Organisation system and has its Collective Management Organisation’s responsibilities carried out by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).
This body is one which emerged from the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society of Nigeria, founded in the year 2009 and was approved by the Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) as the sole Collective Management Organisation in Nigeria.
The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) received its authority to negotiate and grant licenses, and collect and distribute royalties of copyright owners from section 39(8) of the Nigeria Copyright Act.
- Arguments in Favour of a Single Collective Management System as Opposed to the Multi-Collective Management Organisation System in Operation Offshore.
It is unrealistic to expect the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to perform at the same level as international CMOs such as Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), Phonographic Performance (PPL), Performing Rights Society (PRS), and American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
It is uncalled for to dispose off the single-CMO system in acceptance of the multi-system CMO in a country like Nigeria, considering the short period that the establishment has been in operation as well as how so recent it is that the concept of Collective Management Organisation was introduced in Nigeria.
It may seem that the Copyright Society of Nigeria is underperforming, however, note that the International Collective Management Organisation has been established for more than Eighty years while the Copyright Society of Nigeria has been in operation for just 14 years in which amidst the storms of bad leadership, poor funding, the nature and ideology of Nigerians as people and so many other hindrances that make it difficult for the body to thrive the way its counterparts thrive in their ideal societies.
The Copyright Society of Nigeria has been taking the right steps which will surely require a lot of time for it to be firmly established like its counterparts in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
It is pertinent at this juncture to buttress the need and importance of a single Collective Management Organisation in Nigeria by elucidating the reader on the key roles/goals played and aimed to be achieved respectively by the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the sole Collective Management Organisation in Nigeria.
- Roles Played by the Copyright Society.
(1) It steps to overcome the perception that music is free. This itself has been combated with actions as well as the slogan of COSON itself which is “Let the Music pay”.
(2) To effect legal action against violators of members’ rights. There is arguably the biggest copyright infringement lawsuit in Africa which is the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) V. Mobile Telecommunications Network NIGERIA (MTN) where in the year 2016, COSON filed a Sixteen Billion Naira copyright infringement against MTN Nigeria for taking 70 percent income, splitting 30-40 percent between a Value Added Service Provide, record label, and the performer.
(3) Awareness programs, and conferences to educate the public. A significant one is the Nigerian Digital Music Summit.
(4) Setting aside a no music day where music/songs are not to be played for a few hours and emphasis on the abuse of Intellectual Property rights of artists focused on.
(5) Bringing broadcasting stations to pay for music played on their stations.
(6) The Nigerian Copyright Act has enabled the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to combat violators by initiating civil proceedings to enforce the rights of members. A remarkable case is the case of the Independent Trustees of Association of Hotel Proprietors of Edo State V. The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON)
(7) To collect and distribute the royalties of members’ music that is played internationally. Examples of such International Collective Management Organisations are; the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (ISAC)(With a membership of 1,300 companies in 60 countries), the International Federation of Reproductive Rights Organisation (IFRRO), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
The saying goes – a smooth sea does not make a good sailor, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) as a sole Collective Management Organisation in Nigeria, saddled with the main responsibility of collection and distribution of royalties amongst many other responsibilities, has sailed the ship of the entertainment as well as other Intellectual Property related industries in Nigeria and despite facing several storms it has performed up to a considerable level of expectation.
It has grown organically by improving its internal practices through the launching of CLAP in the year 2017, an online licensing platform that allows business owners to acquire copyright licenses to play music in their establishments.
All these and other commendable achievements of the Copyright Society of Nigeria as a Sole Collective Management Organisation in Nigeria make it worthy to conclude that for a country like Nigeria, the Single-CMO system should not be slid under the carpet in acceptance of the multi-CMO system in successful operation in first world countries.
1. For transparency’s sake, the Copyright Society of Nigeria should adopt the system applicable in the United Kingdom. In essence, adopting the United Kingdom Collective Right Management Directive as entrenched in Chapter 28 of the copyright laws governing Collective Management Organisations.
2. Publishing and publicizing the Copyright Society of Nigeria’s (COSON) annual reports on its websites.
3. Amendment of copyright laws to see to the establishment of a body saddled with the sole responsibility of holding the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and its members accountable.
4. Improvement of the WIPOCOS software to enable the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) for seamless access by other international repertoires.
About the Author
Israel Adebiyi is an undergraduate student of law at Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti. Israel has a penchant for Commercial Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, Human Rights law, and Energy Law. He has volunteered and participated in several seminars, webinars, and debate competitions and can be reached via: [email protected], 09064005464, biyi_maro@instagram, Adebiyi Israel@Twitter, and Israel Adebiyi @LinkedIn