The Nigerian Copyright Commission has filed criminal charges against MTN Nigeria and its Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, for copyright infringement.
According to a report by ThePunchNg, the charge was filed in the Federal High Court, Abuja
The charge, with number ABJ/CR/379/2015, was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday.
In the two-count-charge, signed by NCC’s prosecutor and Copyright Inspector, Mr. Marypauline Olere-Luma, MTN and Moolman were alleged to have infringed on copies of the musical work of an Abuja-based musician, Dovie Omenuwoma-Eniwo, who is also known as Baba 2010.
Specifically, the defendants were alleged to have distributed, sold or “let for hire or for the purposes of trade or business, expose or offer for sale 3,009 infringing copies of the musical work” of Baba 2010, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.
The musical works allegedly infringed upon by the defendants included Omotena, Gentleman and Christian.
The offences, according to the charge, are contrary to and punishable under Section 20 (2)(a) and 20 (2)(b) of the Copyright Act, cap c28 Laws of the Federation 2004. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.
The development came two days after the MTN Group asked its Nigerian subsidiary not to pay the N780bn fine imposed on it by the NCC.
The NCC had initially fined MTN Nigeria N1.04tn for its failure to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered Subscriber Identification Module cards, but the fine was later reduced by 25 per cent to N780bn upon pleas by the firm.
The group said having discovered that the imposition of the fine was not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act, there were valid grounds upon which to challenge it.
“Accordingly, MTN has followed due process and has instructed its lawyers to proceed with an action in the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking the appropriate reliefs,” the telecoms.