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Abuja Court orders NUC, Airtel to pay N703m for copyright infringement

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Zain Nigeria Limted, now Airtel to pay TV Xtra Production N703m as damages for infringing on its copyright.

In his judgement yesterday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the defendants’ actions clearly breached the plaintiff’s copyright.Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TV Extra Production and General Editor, Arise News, Christian Ojorovwu Ogodo, who designed and registered the quiz programme, ‘University Challenge’ with the NUC was surprised to see the programme being aired on Television by the defendants four weeks after he made the presentation to the commission.

In its defence Airtel Nigeria argued that TV Xtra was not the original owner of the programme, explaining that the concept was taken from a similar programme, the British Universities Challenge.

But Justice Ekwo ruled that the defendants misunderstood the case of the plaintiff, who is seeking remedy for his work not in any other part of the world, but registered in Nigeria and which existed at the time it was aired in the country.

He added that airing the programme on AIT and NTA without the permission of the author violated sections 2(a) (1), 6 (1) (a) (1) and 8 of the Copyrights Act.

“The law says that a work in Nigeria is the exclusive right of the owner to control its reproduction in any material form and making adaptations of the work going by Section 6(1) (a) (1) and 8 of the Copyright Act.

“I find that the case of the plaintiff succeeds on the merit I make an order entering judgement on the terms of the claims,” he said.TV Xtra instituted the suit on December 18, 2009 demanding N500m as special damages for the infringement. It is also demanded N200m as general damages for airing the programme titled: ‘Zain African Challenge’ in Nigerian televisions, which infringed on its rights and another N3m as general cost of the suit.

TV Xtra Production also demanded an order of the court compelling the NUC, to approve the programme.

The firm also wants the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining Zain Nigeria from “producing, airing, marketing or exercising any right in respect of the programme called Zain African Challenge.”

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