The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, has ordered telecommunications giant, MTN Nigeria, to pay an Abuja-based musician, Liberty Williams, over copyright violation.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2017, was instituted in 2017 by Williams, against MTN, its Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman; Nowhere to Run Entertainment Ltd and Emmanuel Abanah.
Williams, with the stage name, “Pupayannis”, had through his lawyers from Remedium Law Partners (formerly Felix Igelige and Associate Law Partners), asked the court to award N200 million as general damages and N100 million as aggravated and punitive damages in his favour.
The plaintiff had accused MTN of selling a song he composed in July 2013 as a ringtone. He had asked the court to declare that MTN’s sale of the song without his consent constituted an infringement on his copyright.
The plaintiff had alleged that MTN, in collaboration with Nowhere to Run Entertainment Company, offered his song Love is everything to its millions of subscribers as a ringtone and caller tune without his consent.
In a statement of claim, the plaintiff said he wrote, composed and financed the production of the song in July 2013, three months before he entered into an agreement with Nowhere to Run Entertainment Ltd.
He contended that he did not, at any time, surrender the master tape and the right of the song to the entertainment company and its chief executive.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Mary Ojukwu, asked the telecommunications company to pay the musician N20,000,000 and also render an account of profit for the illegal use of the song for three years.