Uneasy, they say, is the head that wears the crown. Despite losing over 4.5 million subscribers in a perpetual tussle with the NCC and suffering the biggest casualty in the ongoing Data Wars, the telecommunications giant has managed to retain its spot as Nigeria's largest network. Perhaps this is why it appears to be the easiest target.
According to ITPulse:
In a motion filed on June 20, 2016 at the Federal High Court, Lagos by a foremost Intellectual Property lawyer, Mr. Justin Ige, COSON asked the court for six different declarations of copyright infringement allegedly perpetrated by MTN in the MTN Friendship’, ‘Connect’ or ‘Walk In’ Centres across Nigeria; the MTN ‘Road Shows’ in Nigeria; the various MTN Music Concerts, Festivals, Award Shows, Product Activations and Corporate events; the MTN Callertunez platform; the MTN Music Plus platform and the MTN Mobile Radio.
COSON is reportedly claimed to have devoted enormous time and resources in appealing to MTN to obtain the appropriate licences and pay requisite royalties for the musical works and sound recordings deployed by the company but that no attempt made by COSON has got MTN to meet its lawful obligations".
I for one know that Caller Ring Back Tune (CRBT) industry in Nigeria is worth billions of Naira, with high profile artistes amassing as much as $200,000 of the revenue cut. If MTN is paying artistes royalties for their music, how could it possibly be infringing on their copyright? Could this be a case of COSON wanting to play middleman by all means?
According to COSON, MTN keeps a staggering 60% – 70% of the revenue made from CRBTs to itself, leaving Record Labels, VAS providers and the artistes themselves to scuffle for the remaining 30% – 40%. As unfair as that might seem, it appears to be norm all over the world. But rather than filing lawsuits, artistes are finding other ways to take back power. That being said, the lawsuit goes beyond just CRBTs. COSON is also suing MTN for copyright infringements in music downloads, music concerts, award shows and product activation. They've gone further to request for an injunction restraining MTN, its agents or privies from the continued infringement of the copyright in the musical works and sound recordings belonging to members, affiliates and assignors of the society.
There is no official statement from MTN yet addressing these allegations. New global CEO, Rob Shuter, sure has hands full with this disheartening welcome package.