Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings has announced that come October 1, 2010, the era of free music on Nigerian air waves and in public places will be gone forever. The announcement was made by COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, at the Boardroom of the society in Lagos during the signing of a royalty collection agreement between COSON and Olusola Adekanola & Co, one of the nation’s foremost indigenous firms of chartered accountants.

The implication of the new regime is that from October 1 all broadcast media organisations, hotels, restaurants, event venues, advertising companies, banks, telecoms establishments, airlines, road transporters, oil companies and such other enterprises in Nigeria which use music in any way to aid their operations will be made to comply with the Copyright Act or face legal consequences.
Omo wahala has sheled…who will agree to pay? Ko ma funny o!
Can this work in Nigeria?

By the agreement, the skills and resources of the two organizations are being aggregated to ensure that starting October 1, no organization using music in a commercial setting or in public anywhere in Nigeria is allowed to do so without the payment of copyright royalties as required by law. According to Okoroji, “Since the government approval of COSON in May, we have engaged the key users of music in continuous dialogue. We have taken the COSON Stakeholders’ Forum around the country and used different media to discuss the issues with all concerned. We did not jump on anyone neither did we harass anyone. We have been very professional about our mandate. The time has finally come for everyone to do their duty. We have respected the users of music. We expect them to reciprocate that respect. Any of them that is not licensed by October 1 may be attracting sanctions from us or will be exposed to the full weight of the other tools in our tool box”

The firm of Olusola Adekanola & Co is very well known in Nigeria when it comes to revenue collection. The firm pioneered the nation-wide Accelerated Revenue Generation Programme (ARGP) which has helped governments across the country to recover billions of Naira owed them in tax revenues. For several years, they have been one of the nation’s top accounting firms.

At the agreement signing ceremony during the week, Chief Okoroji said that the choice of Olusola Adekanola & Co for the COSON assignment was based on the firm’s proven capacity to deliver. He said that their mandate is to use their nationwide infrastructure to reach every nook and cranny of Nigeria and collect the money due to long suffering Nigerian copyright owners. He added that beyond the collection of revenue, COSON is very mindful of the prudent, professional and transparent management of the copyright royalties collected so that at the end of the day the real copyright owners are not short changed. Said Okoroji, “It’s a watershed event that COSON has as partner one of the most celebrated accounting firms in Nigeria to ensure robust enforcement of the Copyright Act. The transparent management of the funds that will arise from this partnership is critical. We don’t want any stories told about the money collected. It must get to the copyright owners accurately. We are stoutly determined to do a good job in the interest of all the stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry”

The Acting General-Manager of COSON, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, described the signing ceremony as “the dawn of a new day for the entire Nigerian music industry”. According to him, the agreement signing ceremony showed that COSON was “ready to deliver the dividends of creativity to rights owners, across the country and beyond,”

The Managing Partner of Olusola Adekanola & Co., Mr. Kehinde Oyeleke, said his company was aware of the enormity of the assignment and as such would put all hands on deck. “We feel excited and challenged. We know expectations are very high and we will give it our best”, Oyeleke said. He promised that his company will carry out its duties diligently, professionally and conscientiously, within the provisions of the law.