Release our ringtone royalties

Posted: June 8, 2009 in Feature story, True talk, What's going on...


By Abidemi Dairo & Segun Balogun

The Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) has again accused telecommunication companies in the country of Copyright violation by using Nigerian music as ringtones for their subscribers without paying the required royalties.

And on June 1, the Deputy Governor of PMAN (Lagos chapter), Bvoo, led a group of representatives to MTN’s head office at Golden Plaza in South-West Ikoyi, to protest the use of members music as ringtones without compensation.

Bvoo said: “These telecommunication companies are stealing from artists. They are not encouraging us, instead they are giving us bulls…t. They make use of our works without payment.

“If you check phones, you’ll discover that 80 percent of these ringtones are homemade. These are works made from the sweat of hardworking Nigerian artists. They refuse to pay for the usage of these works either by paying the artist directly or paying the body acting on behalf of these artists,” he said.

He also stressed that PMAN is ready to do everything legal to protect the interest of its members. “We have woken up, and we are ready to take the bull by the horn. We need to be paid,” he said.

Andrew Okereke, the Public Relations Manager for MTN, however, countered that PMAN is just presenting a new proposal to his organisation.

“The truth of the matter is that on Monday (June 1) they came and after our discussions they apologised. We have been dealing with them via a third party initially but they are now requesting that we make arrangements to deal with them directly.

They are asking us for a new partnership and to that, we have asked that they write us officially. We are still waiting for their letter,” Mr. Okereke said.

The Truth about Royalties

“We have never dealt with them in person,” Mr. Okereke said. “There has always been a third party. We will just look into it and see if we can work in partnership with them.”

PMAN’s national president, Tee Mac also confirmed the action taken against the telecommunication companies.

“Yes we decided to seek legal action against these telecommunication companies. We believe that as a union and with the assistance of the law, we can get them to pay these royalties,” he said.

He also confirmed that this was the first time PMAN was asking to be paid royalties directly.

“Initially, they (telecommunication companies) made arrangements which they refused to honour with the Music Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), which is the body designated to collect these royalties.

The body now has cases against these companies for refusing to pay for the use of these artists’ works,” he said.

The Third Party

The chief executive of MCSN, Imayo Ayilaran, stressed that the organisation is also involved in legal battles with the telecommunication companies.

“As of today (June 4), the Federal High Court has just ruled in our (MCSN) favour for Zain to pay ₦100 million for copyright infringement,” he revealed.

He confirmed that the body initially had an agreement with the companies but has backed out because the companies refused to commit to their own end of the agreement.

“Initially, we had an agreement which we thought was a good faith gesture but it was actually bait from these telecommunication companies. They first promised to settle through their content providers who will determine how much was owed but they have never honoured it,” he said.

When NEXT contacted Zain, a public relations official declined to comment on the issue.

“MCSN is not a representative of local artists alone,” Mr. Ayilaran revealed. “We represent a global protection of music rights. Although we are not a member of PMAN, they will have our support and encouragement if they are fighting against copyright infringement.”

  1. yworry72 says:

    ride on guy