Copyright Commission sues MTN Nigeria and 4 others for alleged copyright infringement

March 26, 2024
2 min read
fintech compliance
  • The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has charged MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, Karl Toriola — the CEO of MTN Nigeria — Nkeakam Abhulimen, Fun Mobile Ltd, and Yahya Maibe with alleged copyright infringement. 
  • The NCC alleged that between 2010 and 2017, the defendants “offered for sale, sold and traded for business’’ the infringed musical works of Maleke Idowu Moye, a Nigerian artist and comedian, without his consent or authorisation.
  • Per the three-count charge numbered FHC/ABJ/CR/111/2024 filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, as obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the commission added that the defendants used the musical works and sound recordings of Maleke with subsisting copyright as Caller Ring Back Tunes without the authorisation of the artiste.

The commission claimed that the defendants had distributed the musical works to their subscribers without permission and named 911, Miniminiwanawana, Stop Racism, Ewole, 911 instrumental, Radio, Low Waist, and No Bother as the infringed musical works and sound recordings.

In the third count, the defendants were accused of possessing the artiste's musical works and sound recordings for purposes other than personal or domestic use. 

Per the commission, the offences are contrary to and punishable under Section 20 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the Copyright Act, Cap. C28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Despite this, the case has yet to be assigned to a judge, and no date has been set for mention.

In March 2023, former President Muhammad Buhari signed the Copyright Bill 2022 into law. The bill aims to ensure efficient administration, regulation, enforcement, and copyright protection in the digital space.

It aims to “protect the rights of authors and ensure just rewards and recognition for their intellectual efforts, provide appropriate limitations and exceptions to guarantee access to creative works, facilitate Nigeria’s compliance with obligations arising from relevant international copyright treaties and conventions, as well as enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Copyright Commission for effective regulation, administration, and enforcement”.

It also explains copyright, which covers literary, musical, artistic, audiovisual, sound recordings, and broadcast works. It broadens authors' rights, increases criminal penalties for infringements, and addresses the issues raised by digital and online use of copyrighted materials.

It also explicitly protects audiovisual works in digital content, which means that online content such as pictures, videos, sound recordings, and other productions cannot be used without the creators' permission.

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