The Supreme Court has affirmed that the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria, MCSN, doesn’t need the approval as collecting society or an exemption as one to enforce it rights. In a unanimous decision, a panel of five Justices of the Supreme Court held that Section 15(a) (now Section 17) and Section 32 (now Section 39) of the Copyright Act, as amended, which require a collecting society to seek the approval or exemption of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, before it can enforce its rights do not apply to the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria, MCSN. In an appeal by MCSN at the apex court in suit No. SC 425/2010 between MCSN vs. Compact Disc Technology Ltd, Nu Metro Home Entertainment (WA) Ltd and Nu Metro Retail Nigeria Limited, the panel, consisting Justice Mary Peter-Odili, Justice Olukayode, Justice Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice Amina Adamu Augie, and Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which held that MCSN can’t enforce its rights unless it is approved as a collecting society or given an exemption by the NCC.
In the lead judgment by Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, the Supreme Court held “I am in agreement with submission of the learned counsel for the appellant, that Copyright (Amendment)Decree No. 42 of 1999 which introduced Section 15A(now 17) is not retrospective. “In fact, the decree specifically stated its commencement date to be May 10, 1999. Based on the above, I am of the humble opinion that since the law makers have specifically stated that commencement date for the Decree “to be May 10, 1999”, it is clear that the law maker never intended the decree to have a retrospective effect. We rely on and adopt the statement of law in the case of AFOLABI v Governor of Oyo State (1985)16 NSCC.