Saturday, 12 June, 2021

Court Orders NUC, Airtel To Pay N703m To Company Over Copyright Infringement

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Universities Commission and Airtel Nigeria to pay N703 as compensation for copyright infringement to TV Xtra Production. 

Justice Inyang Ekwo in a judgment on Wednesday said the action of the defendants breached the copyright of the plaintiff.

TV Xtra Production’s CEO and General Editor Arise News, Christian Ojorovwu Ogodo, who designed and registered the quiz programme, ‘University Challenge’ with the National Copyrights Commission, said he was surprised to see the programme being aired on television stations by the NUC and Airtel Nigeria four weeks after he made the presentation to the NUC. 

Airtel Nigeria in its defence contended that TV Xtra was not the original owner of the programme, explaining that the idea was picked from a similar programme, the British Universities Challenge.

But Justice Ekwo ruled that the defendants misunderstood the case of plaintiff, who is seeking remedy for his work not in any other part of the world but registered in Nigeria and which existed at the time it was aired in Nigeria. 

He added that airing the programme on AIT and NTA without the permission of the author violated sections 2(a) (1), 6 (1) (a) (1) and 8 of the Copyrights Act.

The judge said, “The law is that a work in Nigeria is the exclusive right of the owner to control the reproduction of the work in any material form and making adaptations of the work going by Section 6(1) (a) (1) and 8 of the Copyright Act.

“I find that the case of the plaintiff succeeds on the merit, I make an order entering judgment on the terms of the claims.”

TV Xtra instituted the copyright infringement suit on December 18, 2009, demanding the sum of N500m as special damages. 

It also demanded N200m as general damages for airing the programme titled: ‘Zain African Challenge’ on Nigerian televisions which infringed its rights.

It also demanded the sum of N3m as cost of the suit.

TV Xtra Production also demanded an order of the court compelling the NUC, which is the first defendant in the suit, to endorse and approve the programme called ‘University Challenge’.

The firm also wants the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining Airtel Nigeria from producing, airing, marketing or exercising any right in respect of the programme called ‘Zain African Challenge’.

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