Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nigerian WebRadio= Internet Radio Stations, Music Webcasts and the Nigerian Copyright Act

I love music, more importantly I love Nigerian Music. That’s how I found myself on the website for Nigerian WebRadio. For those of you who don’t know, Nigerian WebRadio, it is owned and operated by Virgo Visions Media, Inc. based in Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Amongst the many obvious taglines from this website is “100% Nigerian music, 24/7” which stands out. Well this statement is quite explanatory as I found out sooner (than later).

The efforts of the management of this Internet Radio Station is really commendable in “creating a radio station broadcasting to the Nigerian Diaspora”

My main concern here is the copyright issues that must have been attended to by the owners before setting up this venture.
As “Musical works” are eligible for protection under section 3(1) of the Nigerian Copyright Act (Ch. 69, LFN 1990). A right earned by virtue of this eligibility with respect to musical works is pursuant to section 5(1)vii which states:
Broadcast or communicate the works to the public by a local speaker or any other similar device
The import of this statutorily provision is that only owners (or licensees) of original musical works are legally authorized to “communicate the work to the public” or broadcast it by means of any device.

In essence, this means that Nigerian WebRadio must have expended a considerable amount of effort in securing from the original owners of the musical works (as unfortunately, there is yet to be a collective management organization licensed to operate by the Nigerian Copyright Commission ) the rights to broadcast these musical works.
Since, Virgo Visions Media is located in the United States of America (USA), this must have been one hell of an effort.

Me continues to think whether the same method of royalty for music streaming in the USA applies in Nigeria. In the USA model, both the blanket license obtained from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) not only covers the public performance rights to the underlying music composition-the song itself-over-the air-broadcast. For internet broadcast, there is an additional royalty paid to the company called “SoundExchange”. This royalty is supposed to compensate the performers featured in a recorded piece of musical work.

Whether it is the same model that applies in Nigeria is a question for another day as the Copyright Commission (NCC) is yet to give authorization to any Collective Management Organization (CMO).

If Nigerian WebRadio is working without recourse to the necessary authorization from Nigeria, it would be only for a short while as the NCC will soon release the name(s) of authorized CMOs in Nigeria.
Whatever the case maybe, I continue to commend the efforts of Nigeria WebRadio as I am currently listening to “Darey” in “Dance with me ft. Kunzo and Don P”. More powers goes to the elbows of Virgo Visions Media.

PS: Nigerian twin act, “psquare” won the KORA awards for 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Along with this award came a million USD, remind me next time to start taking a music lesson

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