The Federal High Court, Lagos Division on 9th July, 2021, awarded the sum of N2 million per head against telecommunication giants; 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and others after finding that the defendants infringed the plaintiff’s copyright on his musical work ‘Gbagbe Boshe Sele’ based on evidence produced before it.
Reacting to the verdict, the plaintiff, Okiki Bright said he was happy about the favourable judgment, however, he was surprised that the judge awarded the ‘meagre’ sum of N2 million as damages. This sum, he said, is not sufficient to cover his legal and sundry expenses since 2017 when the case began. In his words, ‘I am going to consult my lawyer for my next line of action’.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo had delivered the judgment in suit number :FHC/L/CS/1776/2017 in favour of Nigerian hip hop Artiste, Raji Mutiu Okiki popularly called Okiki Bright, that 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and others 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 music and that the unauthorised use of his song as caller tune by the telecom companies for commercial exploit without his authority amounts to infringement on his copyright.
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 Defendants’ phone services.
Justice Oweibo awarded general and exemplary damages in the sum of N2 million and legal cost of N500, 000 against each defendant in favour of the Plaintiff.
Counsel to Okiki Bright, Akanbi who commended the judge for a well researched and sound judgment, said that the judgment will go long way to discourage intellectual property theft and wished the court had awarded greater punitive damages against the defendants as deterrent.