40 years after, Sunny Ade wins copyright to his musical works

40 years after, Sunny Ade wins copyright to his musical works

Thursday, November 12, 2015 6:31 pm

Akin Kuponiyi

King Sunny Ade, right with his lawyer outside the court today

King Sunny Ade, right with his lawyer outside the court today

The legal tangle between  King Sunny Ade and Record Manufacturing Company of Nigeria, African Songs and its subsidiary Take Your Choice Stores, which  started 40 years ago came to an end today, with the musician winning the right to his works.

A Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria  ordered the two companies to pay Sunny Ade  the sum of N500million as damages, for infringing on his works with additional cost of N3million for prosecuting the suit.

In 1975, a contract dispute arose between the juju maestro  and the two companies culminating into a judgement delivered by Justice Dosunmu of the  Lagos high court, who ordered  the companies to return the master tapes of the original musical works produced under the label of the two companies by Sunny Ade and his Green Spot Band to him.

But before the master tape could be returned the chairman chief Executive Officer of the two companies Chief Bolarinwa Abioro died.

Consequently,in a bid to retrieve the master Tapes Sunny Ade in 1997  again dragged the two companies before a federal high court in Lagos. Joined as co-defendants were Lati Alagbada,Record Manufacturing Company of  Nigeria Limited, Ibukunola Printers, Alhaja Awawu Ade Amodu,and M.O. Alagbada, who he alleged have been using the master tapes to produce inferior qualities of his musical works and sell them to members of the public,  thereby depriving him of his means of  livelihood.

He contended that he was the author,composer,and producer of all the musical works numbering about 22

He therefore demanded for damages in the sum of one Billion Naira jointly and severally,in addition to the order of the court ordering the two companies to return to him his master tapes as well as restraining the defendants from infringing on his musical works.

The statement of claim was filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer,  Chief Felix Fagbohungbe,SAN.

In a defence and counter claim  filed by the two companies,they claimed that since Sunny Ade had been paid royalties by the companies,  he could not lay claim to the tapes again.

They claimed that the contract he signed with the two companies did  not include returning of the master tapes to him. They  therefore urged the court to award N5million against Sunny Ade .

In his judgement,Justice James Tsoho while dismissing the counter claim of the two companies for lack of merit,ordered the them to pay Sunny Ade and his band the sum of N500 million.

He also ordered that the master tapes should be returned to him since it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the owner of the copyright.

The claim against other defendants were struck out on the ground that no enough evidence were adduced against them.

Based on the application made by Barrister Yomi Adeniran from the law firm of Felix Fagbohungbe SAN asking for a sum of N5million as cost of prosecuting this case as Sunny Ade had always come to court whenever the case came up, Justice Tsoho awarded N3million cost against the two companies.

*Kuponiyi can be reached at: [email protected]

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