Artiste drags Glo, 9mobile, Airtel to court over caller tune ‘piracy’, demands N400 million

In Lagos, a Federal High Court has adjourned a suit by Nigerian artiste Bright Okiki against telecommunication companies over alleged copyright infringement until March 5 for continued hearing.

The defendants in the suit are Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd, Airtel, Globacom and Mobilexcetra Ltd.

The plaintiff, who authored the song, ‘Gba gbe boshe sele,’ featuring Oritsefemi, alleged that the defendants used the song as caller tunes without his authorisation.

In suit number FHC/L/CS/1776/17, the plaintiff is claiming N400 million cumulatively against the defendants for infringing on his intellectual property.

He also asked the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from continued use of his work.

The case, which was slated for continuation on Tuesday, could not proceed as the court, presided by Justice Nicholas Oweibo, did not sit.

The case has now been fixed for March 5.

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

He added that he was still working on promoting his song when people drew his attention to his song being a caller tune of some telecommunications companies.

He had downloaded the song from Airtel, to be sure and had also found out from the Globacom website that his music was listed as a caller tune. He also downloaded the same from Globacom.

Mr. Okiki explained that his legal team had then printed them out as evidence before officially writing to the companies.

Mr. Okiki, therefore, sought a declaration that he is the exclusive owner of the musical work ‘Gbegbe Booshe Sele’ and that the defendants have infringed on his intellectual works.

According to court papers, he wants a court order compelling the defendants to individually pay him N100 million each (totalling N400 million) as damages for infringement on his intellectual property.

Meanwhile, in its counterclaim, the third defendant (Globacom) denied that it had committed any infringement on the plaintiff’s work.

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

Globacom argued that based on the fourth defendant’s memorandum of understanding with one Shetade Images on February 13, 2017, it believed it could rely on the fourth defendant to provide it with the caller tunes.

The third defendant said in the memorandum, Mr. Oritsefemi, a co-copyright owner of the song, had given his consent.

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

In its counterclaim, the first defendant denied liability for any infringement, citing a similar memorandum of understanding.

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