COSON Chairman, Chief Anthony Okoroji
By Nwanneka Ezemelue and Mbotidem Friday
To mark this year ‘No Music Day’ which is one of the activities streamlined by the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition (NMIC), the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has stated that it would not relent in its fight against the massive abuse of the rights of musicians and stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry.
The Chairman of COSON, Chief Anthony Okoroji, made this known during an open house conference to celebrate this year ‘No music day’ tagged: ‘Keep the Music Alive’ in Lagos recently.
According to Okoroji, the objective of this year’s theme is to engage the Nigerian people and government at all levels on the potential contributions of Nigerian music to the socio-economic development of the nation.
He added that the necessity to fully deploy the substantial international comparative advantage which the country possesses in this area (music) would help provide jobs for the teeming youths parading the streets with little hope.
Okoroji, who disclosed why the NMIC decided to set aside September 1 annually to celebrate the ‘No music Day’, said this was its fifth year and the celebration was aimed at bringing to sharp focus the value of the work of great creative talents and to seek national intervention on the problems militating against the proper growth of Nigeria’s creative industries.
He also noted that ‘No Music Day’ had become a very important annual event for the creative community in Nigeria, adding that “On this fifth edition, we should be reminded of that week in 2009 when for several days, many Nigerian artistes of all shades held huge rallies at the National Theatre in Lagos and went on a week-long hunger strike to protest against the cruel infringement of the rights of artistes in Nigeria.
“For the first time in the history of mankind, the music industry called for the halt of the broadcast of music all over the country for a whole day-September 1, 2009.”
According to the COSON boss, the organisation protects the rights of music industry practitioners and also helps collect copyright royalties for the use of their music and sound recordings in Nigeria while PRS for music collects the royalties for Nigerian music used outside the country.
He also stressed the need for hotels that have not been licensed for the use of music to do so expeditiously.
“We call on the National Assembly to ensure that forthwith, clear provisions are made in the budgets of all federal government owned broadcast stations for the payment of copyright royalties. We refuse to accept a situation where the stations continue with the open stealing of the intellectual property of creative people simply because there is no budget for the payment for the key raw material they deploy in their operations. Any scheme by which the stations are required to pay royalties from their meagre or non-existent ‘internally generated revenue’ is a joke and simply unacceptable to us.”
Okoroji noted that COSON was aware of “some men with laptops under umbrella, allegedly compiling the most popular songs for a fee and transferring them to mobile handsets and other devices without the authorisation of the owners of the work.
He called on Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and other law enforcement agencies to address digital piracy in order to save jobs in this sector and create new investments.
The music icon also appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to order the Bank of Industries (BOI), the Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Investments and all stakeholders in connection with funds “to do what is necessary to make sure that they create impact in the music industry and also help create the needed employment in the country.”