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King Sunny Ade wins N503million for copyright infringement

ksacThe popular Juju expert, King Sunny Ade has rewarded the sum of N503million for copyright infringement. Thirty years after he instituted a suit against African Songs and its subsidiary, Take Your Choice Stores, the Yoruba music legend now has cause to smile as he has been awarded a massive amount of N500million as damages, for infringing on his works with additional cost N3million for prosecuting the suit.
According to a statement of claim amended three times filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer Chief Felix Fagbohungbe,SAN
In 1975, a contract dispute arose between king Sunny Ade and the two companies culminating to a judgment delivered by Justice Dosumu presiding over a Lagos high court.
In the said judgment the court ordered the companies to return the master tapes of the original musical works produce under the label of the two companies by Sunny Ade and his green sport bank to him, but before the master tape could be returned the Chief Executive Office of the two companies, Chief Bolarinwa Abioro died.
Consequently, in a bid to retrieve the master Tapes Sunny Ade in 1997 dragged the two companies before a federal high court in Lagos, argued that he was the author, composer, and producer of all the musical works numbering about 22.
Joined as co-defendants are; Lati Alagbada, Record manufacturing Nigeria Limited, Ibukunola Printers, Alhaja Awawu Ade Amodu and M.O. Alagbada, who he alleged have been using the master tapes to produce inferior qualities of his musical works and sell them to members of the public thereby depriving him of his means of livelihood.
He therefore demanded for damages in the sum of N1 Billion jointly and severally and prayed the court to order the two companies to return to him his master tapes as well as restraining the defendants from infringing on his musical works.
In a defence and counter claim filed by the two companies, they claimed that since Sunny Ade has been paid royalties by the companies he cannot lay claim to the tapes again. According to them, the contract he signed with the two companies does not include returning of the master tapes to him. Consequently, they urged the court to award N5million against Sunny Ade and in their favour.
In his judgment, Justice James Tsoho while dismissing the counter claim of the two companies for lack of merit, ordered the two companies to pay Sunny Ade and his band the sum of N500milion.
The judge also ordered that the master tapes should be return to Sunny Ade since it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the owner of the copyright.
The claims against other defendants were struck out on the ground that no enough evidence were adduced against them.
Base on the application made by barrister Yomi Adeniran from the law firm of Felix Fagbohungbe SAN asking for a sum of N5million as cost of prosecuting this case as Sunny Ade have always been coming to court whenever the case was coming up, Justice Tsoho awarded N3million cost against the two companies.
The 69 years old singer’s music is characterised by, among other instruments, the talking drum, an instrument indigenous to his Yoruba roots, the guitar and his peculiar application to juju music, that would easily put him in the same class as guitar musicians like Santana. His music is in the age-old tradition of singing poetic lyrics (“ewi” in Yoruba) and praise of dignitaries as well components of Juju (traditional African belief) called the Ogede (casting a spell). Hence, Adé’s music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity.
Sunny Adé was the first to introduce the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop music. He was the first to introduce the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the jùjú music repertoire such as dub and wah-wah guitar licks.

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