Copyright:  Court reserves judgment in suit against Airtel, Glo over caller tunes

Copyright: Court reserves judgment in suit against Airtel, Glo over caller tunes

By Sandra Umeh

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday reserved judgement until May 26, in a suit filed  by an artiste, Mr Bright Okiki, against some telecommunication companies over alleged copyright infringement.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo reserved judgement in the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/1776/17 after parties adopted written submissions.

The defendants in the suit are: Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd., Airtel, Globacom and Mobilexcetra Ltd. as first, second, third and fourth respondents.

The plaintiff, who said he authored the song: “Gba gbe boshe sele”, featuring Oritsefemi, alleged that the defendants used the song as caller tunes without his authorisation.

He is claiming the sum of N400 million cumulatively against the defendants for allegedly infringing on his intellectual property right.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from continued use of his work.

All parties in the suit had concluded evidence from witnesses, and the court adjourned for adoption of final addresses.

On Friday, Mr Alayo Akanbi appeared for the plaintiff, Mrs Abisola Babatunde appeared for the second defendant, Mrs Funke Loko appeared for the third defendant and Mr T.O Lawal appeared for the fourth defendant.

There was no legal representation for the first defendant.

Parties then informed the court of their respective written addresses and arguments, and urged the court to uphold their submissions.

The second defendant’s written address is dated Feb. 28, 2020, the third defendant’s address is dated on Feb. 27, 2020, while the fourth defendant’s address is dated on Feb. 26, 2020.

Counsel to the plaintiff also adopted his written address dated March 24, 2020.

He urged the court to grant the prayers.

In his statement of claim, the plaintiff averred that he had paid to feature Oritsefemi in the song in order to get more acceptability.

He said that he was still working on promoting his song when some people drew his attention to the fact that his song was on caller tunes of some telecommunications companies.

According to him, he downloaded the song from Airtel in order to be sure, and also found out from Globacom website that his music was listed as caller tune.

The plaintiff said that his legal counsel printed the song out as evidence before writing to the telecom companies.

The plaintiff seeks a declaration that he is the exclusive owner of the musical work: “Gbegbe Booshe Sele”.

He also claims that the defendants infringed on his intellectual property right.

He wants a court’s order compelling the defendants to individually pay him N100 million (total N400 million) as damages for alleged infringement on his intellectual property right.

In a counter-claim, the third defendant (Globacom) denied that it committed the infringement.

Globacom averred that the fourth defendant (Mobileexcetera) had agreed to provide it with the caller tunes, adding that it believed it had the authorisation of owners of the tunes.

It said that based on the fourth defendant’s memorandum of understanding with one Shetade Images on Feb. 13, 2017, it believed it could rely on the fourth defendant to provide it with the caller tunes, adding that same was supplied based on agreement.

It claimed that in the memorandum of understanding, Oritsefemi, who it described  as  a co-copyright owner of the song, gave his consent.

The defendant, however, said that the song had since been removed as a caller tune, and denied liability.

Also in its counter-claim, the first defendant also denied liability for any infringement, citing a similar memorandum of understanding. (NAN)

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