By Adeyemi Obadimu
A Federal High Court in Lagos on 9th July, 2021 fined some telecommunication giants; 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and others sum of N2 million over copyright infringement of Okiki Bright musical work Gbagbe Boshe Sele.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo delivered judgment in suit number :FHC/L/CS/1776/2017 in favour of Nigerian hip hop Artiste, Raji Mutiu Okiki popularly called Okiki Bright held that 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and other infringed on the copyright of Okiki Bright for using his musical work titled Gbagbe Boshe Shele as caller tune for commercial exploit without his consent and authorisation.
The court resolved that Okiki Bright and Oritsefemi are not co-owners of the song “Gba gbe boshe sele” saying featuring Oritsefemi in a song does not make Oritsafemi a co-owner of the said song.
The Plaintiff in his suit filed by his counsel, Alayo Akanbi prayed the court to declare him as the exclusive owner and original composer of the musical work titled Gbage Boshe Sele, and that unauthorised use of his song as caller tune by the telecommunications for commercial exploit without his authority amounts to infringement on his copyright to the musical work.
Okiki Bright equally asked for monetary damages cumulatively against the defendants for infringing on his intellectual property.
In his statement of claim, the plaintiff averred that he paid the star Artiste, Oritsefemi Majemite Ekele to feature in his song in order to get more acceptability and that he was still working on promoting his song, when people drew his attention to the fact that his song was now on caller tunes of some telecommunications companies.
Justice Oweibo awarded general and exemplary damages in the sum of N2 million and cost of N500, 000 each against the telecommunication companies and in favour of the Plaintiff.
While speaking with counsel to Okiki Bright, Alayo Akanbi who commended the judge for a well researched and sound judgment and said that the judgment will go long way to discourage intellectual property theft and wished that court should have awarded greater punitive damages against the Defendants as deterrent.
On his part, Okiki Bright said the judge has passed the judgment in his favour but he was surprise about the award of damages in the meager sum of N2 million and that the amount cannot cater for his expenses since 2017 when the case started. In his words, ‘I am going to consult my lawyer my next of action’.