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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Nigeria court orders MultiChoice Nigeria to pay N5.9 billion in special damages to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.

In a big blow to MultiChoice Africa's already struggling MultiChoice Nigeria country division, the Nigerian Federal High Court has ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to pay N5.9 billion (R198.5 million) in "special damages" in a protracted legal fight between MultiChoice and the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.


MultiChoice Nigeria has filed an appeal against the ruling, as well as a stay of execution against the judgment.

The Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria took MultiChoice Nigeria to court over 8 years ago in 2011, claiming that MultiChoice owes it a cumulative N4.1 billion in copyright royalties for 18 songs, including some from the musician Bisade Ologunde, and even UEFA Cup thematic music and UEFA Championship League thematic music.

MultiChoice Nigeria, then filed a counter-claim and dragged the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria to court, wanting the court to grant a permanent injunction to prevent the copyright society from ever demanding the pay-TV broadcaster to obtain copyright licensing for the broadcast of musical works on the TV channels and radio stations carried on DStv Nigeria and GOtv Nigeria on MultiChoice Nigeria's pay-TV services.

MultiChoice Nigeria argued in court that the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria was not licensed or approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission as a collecting agency.

On Friday in Lagos, Nigeria, judge Mohammed Idris's judgment was in favour of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria, with MultiChoice Nigeria that was ordered to pay NR5.9 billion.

“That judgment is entered in favour of the defendant/counter-claimant in the following terms: N5,490,652,125.00 only as special damages,” ruled Mohammed Idris, adding an additional N200 million and another N309 million as general and aggravated damages against MultiChoice Nigeria.

MultiChoice Nigeria in a statement on Monday said that the satellite pay-TV operator has filed an appeal, as well as a stay of execution against the federal court's judgment.

“MultiChoice has filed an appeal as well as a stay of execution against the Federal Court’s judgement. However as the case remains sub judice, we are prevented from providing further details at this point,” MultiChoice Nigeria said.