A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till October 30, 2015 to give judgment in an alleged copyright infringement case instituted by popular Nigerian musician, King Sunny Ade.
The seven defendants in the suit, filed in 2007, include musical records and cassettes marketers and a cassette jacket printer in Nigeria.
Sunny Ade is seeking damages in the sum of N3bn from the defendants for alleged copyright infringement on 43 works categorised as singles, extended, series and others.
He also wants the court to bar the defendants from printing his photographs or his likeness on any musical works.
The defendants in the suit are African Songs Limited; Take Your Choice Records Store Ltd; Lati Alagbada Nigeria Ltd; and Records Manufacturer of Nigeria Limited.
Others are Ibukunolu Printers Nigeria Ltd; Alhaja Awawu Ade Amodu and Sons; and M.O. Alagbada Nigeria Company.
In his 41-paragraph statement of claim, the musician claimed to have, in 1970, entered into a five-year agreement with the 1st defendant to reproduce the said works and sell under its record label.
He, however, claimed that upon the expiration of the agreement period in 1975, the 1st defendant refused to return to him the master tapes of the songs despite repeated demands from its then Chief Executive Officer, who is now late, Chief Bolarinwa Abioro.
He claimed that a suit instituted on the subject matter in 1974 was resolved in his favour by Justice L.J. Dosunmu in 1975.
He, however, claimed that in spite of the judgment, defendants had continued to reproduce and distribute his works without his authorisation, causing him both social and financial losses.
Sunny Ade claimed that his monthly revenue from live shows, which used to be N5m, had reduced to a “paltry” sum of N500,000.
He also claimed that his monthly income from sales of compact discs and cassettes had dwindled from N3.5m to N150,000.
But the 1st and 2nd defendants asked the court to not only dismiss Sunny Ade’s case, but to award N500m against the musician for the damages that they had suffered from 1997 when Sunny Ade obtained a restraining order against them.
Contrary to Sunny Ade’s claims, the defendants claimed that their relationship with the musician dated back to 1966 when they received and negotiated musical performance bookings for him, in addition to sponsoring his musical tour of the United Kingdom.
According to them, Clause 9 of the 1970 agreement vested the sole right of production, reproduction, sale, use and performance of the works throughtout the world in the 1st defendant.