Monday, April 30, 2012

Multimedia dragged to court

April 24, 2012 (Page 3 Lead) Two Nigerian film producers have dragged the Multimedia Group Limited and its Chief Executive to the High Court in Accra for infringing on their copyrights by illegally showing a new movie on its television channel to the whole world. Charles Uche Ayika and Chinedu Samuel Ugochukwu have accused Multimedia and its Chief Executive, Mr Kwesi Twum, of airing their new movie, Arrows of Love Parts 1 & 2, on MultiTV’s Cine Afrik channel without their permission, thereby losing millions of naira in the process. The plaintiffs are, therefore, praying the High Court to order the defendants to pay $1.3 million, GH¢9,000 being costs in hotel and travel expenses, as well as interest on the money borrowed to produce the film. The defence has, however, filed a motion praying the court to strike out the name of Mr Twum from the writ of summons and the statement of claim because he was not the proper person to be sued under the law. The court has fixed May 23, 2012 as the date to determine whether or not to strike out the name of Mr Twum from the suit. According to the plaintiffs, they granted the right to market the film in Nigeria to Chiddo Productions Limited of Idumota, Lagos, and then entered into a contract worth 200,000,000 naira with Rich Investment Company Limited (RICL) of Nigeria to market and distribute the English version of the movie on DVD and VCD within the rest of Africa. A statement of claim accompanying the writ of summons said before the plaintiffs could supply four million copies of the movie to RICL for distribution, the defendants, without licence from the plaintiffs, started transmitting the film to the whole world via their free-to-air multi-channel digital television service. It said following the transmission of the movie, RICL cancelled the $1.2 million (200,000,000 Naira) contract with the plaintiffs alleging a breach of the contractual agreement. The statement pointed out that the film copiously and conspicuously labelled the plaintiffs as producers and copyright owners of the movie and for that reason the defendant’s action was an infringement on the copyright law. It said the transmission of the movie was repeated many times without any licence from the plaintiffs and thereby caused the plaintiffs a huge loss. According to the statement, the defendants sneered at their efforts for a resolution and were determined not to remedy their wrong unless so ordered by the court. It, therefore, maintained that unless restrained by the court, the defendants would continue to infringe the plaintiffs’ copyright in the movie. In a statement of defence, the defendants said they were not in a position to admit or deny plaintiffs’ claim that they were the copyright owners of the Arrows of Love movie. It said the defendants were also not in a position to admit or deny plaintiffs’ claim that they had given RICL the right to market the movie and as well incurred losses due to the transmission of the movie. It said the plaintiffs were not entitled to the reliefs being sought.

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