The Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON),Chief Tony Okoroji, has called on the electronic media to pay royalties to Nigerian musicians. Okoroji in Lagos on Friday said that musicians are not adequately rewarded by most broadcast stations locally and abroad apart from their being victims of piracy. “Apart from the high level of intellectual property theft which we find locally and on the internet. Everywhere I go in the continent, Nigerian music is blaring everywhere. If you go to the shops, you see pirated versions of this music or the broadcast stations, there is a lot of Nigerian music blaring that nobody is paying for. If this is Nigeria oil, we will go to war. I think the time has come for Nigeria to do something about this because this is our wealth. Our wealth is not just oil; our wealth is our intellectual property which is being filtered away. We are not getting appropriate numeration at all for our works that are being consumed."
The chairman said that there had been a long drawn dispute between the musicians and government broadcast stations over the non-payment of royalty to them. According to him, the law is clear that you do not use someone’s intellectual property, without authorisation and remuneration for it; but some broadcast stations still default. “I believe that the private broadcast stations have done extremely well, in respective agreement, where we have had problems will be with the government-owned stations. A lot of them complain that they are underfunded. Our position is that your being underfunded can’t be a reason for you to take property that belongs to other people and use it as if nobody owns the property. Some of the stations will tell you that they are spending so much on their diesel to power their generators, they don’t broadcast diesel; they broadcast music. The diesel, they don’t get it for free even though diesel is petroleum that belongs to all Nigerians. Why should they get music that belongs to individual Nigerians for free?’’ Okoroji urged government at all levels to adequately fund their stations so as to enable them to pay musicians their dues.