By Adeyemi Obadimu
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday 9th July, 2021 fined some telecommunications giants; 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and others the sum of N2 million over copyright infringement of Okiki Bright’s musical work ‘Gbagbe Boshe Shele’.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo delivered judgment in the suit number :FHC/L/CS/1776/2017 in favour of the Nigerian hip hop Artiste, Raji Mutiu Okiki popularly called Okiki Bright, held that 9mobile, Airtel, Globacom and others infringed on the copyright of Okiki Bright by using his musical work titled ‘Gbagbe Boshe Shele’ as caller tune for commercial exploitation 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 that featuring Oritsefemi in a song does not make Oritsafemi a co-owner of the said song.
The Plaintiff in the 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 operators for commercial exploitation without his authorisation amounts to an 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 for it to gain 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.
Speaking after the judgement counsel to Okiki Bright, Alayo Akanbi who commended the judge for a well researched and sound judgment, said that the judgment will go a long way to discourage intellectual property theft and wished that the court would have awarded greater punitive damages against the defendants.
On his part, Okiki Bright said the judge has passed the judgment in his favour but he was surprised 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 on my next course of action’.