Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), has sued hospitality giant Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, N1 billion, for infringing on its members rights.
AVRS is the umbrella group for copyright owners in Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood. Members are essentially practitioners and creators of audio-visual works – films, movies and dramas.
The society in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1282/2021, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on October 25, 2021, is asking for the award of N1 billion, in unpaid royalties and damages against Transcorp, for the unauthorised copying, communication to the public, public performance and violation of the copyright in the audio-visual works belonging to AVRS members, affiliates and assignors.
A statement issued Tuesday by AVRS Acting General Manager, Mrs. Olubukola Adeyemi, quoted the Chairman, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun as saying that the society had been patient with the hotel, but left it with no other choice than litigation.
“We have been very patient with users. We have demonstrated high level of civility. We have been strategic and thoughtful in our approach. We have even gone to them pleading that they do the right thing. Rather than reciprocate our kind gestures and respect the intellectual property of our creators and members, Transcorp Hilton Hotel has continued unabated to infringe on the copyright of our members.
“Their lawyer even told us that their clients do not watch movies/films in their hotel rooms. So, they left us with no choice but to bring the full weight of the law on them. Copyright is property and anyone who must deploy our creative contents in their facilities must pay for them,” Balogun said.
Nollywood veteran and AVRS director, Prince Jide Kosoko, reacting to the suit, said: “Monkey cannot be working and baboon is busy chopping and getting fat from the sweat of the monkey. Our films and movies are our creations and intellectual property and for any hotel, broadcaster, restaurant, lounge and salon to use them, they must pay and compensate us for them, that is what AVRS stands for.”
The statement stated that other hotels, such Eko Hotel & Suites, Sheraton Hotels, Federal Palace Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Southern Sun Hotels, Wheat Baker Hotels, have continued to meet their copyright obligations to AVRS.