The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has filed criminal charges against MTN Nigeria and its Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, over alleged copyright infringement.
This comes a day after the network vowed that it would not pay the fine imposed on it by the NCC, threatening to go to court to challenge the penalty.
Recall that the NCC had fined the company N1.04 trillion for its failure to disconnect about 5.1 million unregistered subscribers on its network in August and September 2015.
Although the fine was last week reduced to N780 billion, the company said in a statement on Thursday: “MTN Nigeria acting on legal advice has resolved that the manner of the imposition of the fine and the quantum thereof is not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act”.
Now, NCC’s suit is seen as the beginning of a legal war between the regulatory authority and the telecom firm.
In the two-count-charge signed by NCC Prosecutor and Copyright Inspector, 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 (aka Baba 2010).
Specifically, the defendants were alleged to have “distribute, sell or let for hire or for the purposes of trade or business, expose or offer for sale 3009 infringing copies of the musical work’’ of Baba 2010.
The musical works allegedly infringed upon by the defendants included; “Omotena, Gentleman, Christian and unity song’’ by the musician.
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