At the beginning, it was very tough getting users to change the way they disrespectfully treat intellectual property. To change this perception, we have had to travel throughout the length and breadth of the major cities of the country promoting respect for intellectual property.

Mrs. Olubukola Adeyemi, General Manager (Acting), Audio Visual Rights Society (GTE/LTE) of Nigeria, speaks on the 6th AGM of AVRS coming up November 10, 2022


AVRS recently announced the coming up of its 6th Annual General Meeting taking place on November 10, 2022, please run us through what you intend to achieve on that day.

Yes, I wish to further confirm that we will be holding our 6th AGM on November 10, 2022 and I must commend the Management Board of AVRS led by our indefatigable Chairman, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun for its tenacity over the last six years in ensuring that we do not fail in holding our AGM every year. Statutorily, we are expected to meet with our members, who are the true owners of the organisation at an AGM once every year. At the AGM, the Board will present its report on the operational and financial state of the organisation for the year under review. After the presentation of the report by the Board, members will be given the opportunity to assess their Board based on its performance, ask questions, make comments and suggestions.

Beyond the presentation of report, what other critical activities would be taking place at the AGM?

You will recall that in 2020 and 2021 despite the huge financial impact of COVID-19 with the shutting down of businesses, AVRS defied the odds by ensuring that our members were paid their royalties in 2020 and 2021. 2022 is not going be different. We are hoping to do better this year in terms of royalty payment to our members. They are the reason, AVRS is set up and it is our job to ensure that they get paid from the money collected from users.

Please talk us through your membership make up.

AVRS membership is made up producers, directors, screenwriters and performers (actors). All these interested parties are also represented on the Board of the organisation, which is made up of twelve members. Let me use this opportunity to invite our filmmakers and actors who are yet to regularise their membership and records with the organisation to do so without further delay. AVRS is open to all filmmakers and actors whose works have been published and released into the public space and membership registration is free.

You earlier mentioned that you collect money from users. Who are they?

Users are those organisations and businesses like hotels and similar establishments, restaurants, television stations, satellite broadcasters, conveyances, hair dressing saloons, digital service providers and so on, that use audio-visual works (films/movies, drama, documentaries) to either promote their businesses or as part of their business model. Any organisation that publicly or commercially use audio-visual works is by our law duty bound to get a license from AVRS before use. Otherwise, their action without an AVRS license will be infringement of the copyright of our members’ works. The consequence for such infringement could either be civil or criminal or both.

How has the compliance level been since you commenced operation?

At the beginning, it was very tough getting users to change the way they disrespectfully treat intellectual property. To change this perception, we have had to travel throughout the length and breadth of the major cities of the country promoting respect for intellectual property. Through stakeholders’ engagements, we are gradually changing the erroneous belief that Intellectual property can be used by businesses for free without compensating the right holders. This has led us to licensing some major users across the country. I will like to take this opportunity to thank the President of Hotel Owners and Managers Association of Lagos (HOMAL), Chief S. O. Alabi of Eko Hotel and Suites, who has vigorously led the campaign for the respect of intellectual property amongst his colleagues in the hotel and tourism sector. He facilitated the agreement with HOMAL and he has continued to positively intervene in our negotiations with Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA) and other hotel trade associations across the country. I will also want to thank all the users who have chosen the path of obeying the law by ensuring that their facilities are licensed appropriately.

At the same time, we are calling on other users like the broadcasters including Multichoice DSTV and Startimes who are heavily dependent on our works for their daily transmissions. We have made several attempts at getting the broadcasters to respect our rights and do the needful. We sincerely hope they will follow the path of honour and meet their copyright obligations to AVRS.

Therefore, I will say full compliance is still work in progress and we are focused in bringing more users into the compliance net.

How do you ensure compliance for those users who may not be willing to pay their copyright licence fees?

We have more than one tool available to us under the law to ensure that recalcitrant users do not escape the long arm of the law. You will recall that in October last year, we picketed the Radisson Blu Hotels on Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja, for not complying with the extant Copyright Act. Despite all our effort to get them to respect the law, they refused to take a license for the use of audio-visual works in their hotel facilities until we picketed them and the hotel managers that have refused to settle their obligations started running helter-skelter. It should not have come to that if only they had simply obeyed the law of the land. Anyway, we ended up resolving the matter with them for what they owed AVRS but like the popular saying goes, “a leopard does not change its spot”. Radisson Blu & sister Hotels belonging to the Avalon Group despite many of their promises have gone back to their old and unacceptable ways. They are yet to acquire a copyright license for 2022 and the law is clear. It is authorisation before use; meaning you cannot use a work publicly or commercially without first obtaining a copyright license. They are already in default and we will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on them or any other recalcitrant users.

You will also recall that last year, we took one of Nigeria’s biggest hotels, Transcorp Hilton and a medium sized hotel, Chelsea both in Abuja to court for infringement of the works and rights of our members and affiliates. This year too, we have carried out several enforcements against defaulting users. We will continue to appeal to users, to respect our intellectual property by ensuring that they are properly licensed for the use of audio-visual works in their facilities and platforms.

It’s interesting that many lawyers representing these hotels do not understand copyright laws and are not familiar with collective management operations yet go ahead to wrongly advise their clients on their liability to AVRS on licensing as enshrined in Nigerian Copyright Act which have been further reviewed to give more teeth to licensing operations of the CMOs. This practice is further perpetuated as most clients in Nigeria seldom demand damages or compensation from their lawyers if cases are lost because of faulty or wrong advise from these lawyers. AVRS will never shirk its responsibility to ensure that every member of our organisation gets a fair reward for the exploitation of their works.

At this juncture, I wish to thank the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Nigeria Police who are always ready to lend their support whenever they are called upon as enshrined in the Nigeria Copyright Act.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top