An entertainment lawyer, Rockson Igelige, has petitioned the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) over alleged copyright infringement on a dramatic literary work, ‘Heroes of the Night’.
Igelige said his client, Mr Elias Ozikpu is the author of the work, which book was published by Melose Books and Publishing Ltd., Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd., and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) without his consent.
The petition was addressed to the Director-General of NCC, Mr John Asein and submitted on Monday Feb. 10 in Abuja.
According to Igelege, the alleged publication is without the authorisation, license and consent of the author.
He explained that Melrose and Macmillan later sold the publishing rights of the alleged stolen literary work to Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Ltd.
“Which in turn included ‘Heroes of the Night’ to UBEC for the supply of books to secondary schools nationwide”
“Curiously, they hid the name of Mr Elias Ozikpu as the rightful author of the work and substituted same with Melrose.”
According to the petition, “Upon completion of the final manuscript of Heroes of the Night, our client, Ozikpu) forwarded same on May 14, 2012, via electronic mail to Melrose.
Igelege said his client had sent the manuscript to enquire if the work would be published, stating that Melrose however agreed to publish the manuscript upon terms expressed in a Memorandum of Agreement “which our client duly executed and returned’’.
Igelege said that having waited for five months without hearing from Melrose, his client emailed Melrose to enquire about the expected publication date of his manuscript.
The petition stated that his client however, received no reply, adding that he wrote yet again on Sept. 14, 2013, whereupon Melrose replied to say that the manuscript would be published in the last quarter of 2013.
He said that more than eight months after, the manuscript was yet to be published, thereby causing his client to write on May 13, 2014, to Melrose seeking an explanation for the failure to do so but got no response.
The lawyer said “our client wrote on Dec. 15, 2014 to terminate the contract or Memorandum of Agreement and on Dec. 17, 2014, Melrose emailed “our client accepting the termination of the Memorandum of Agreement’’.
Igelige said the book Heroes of the Night, had been reprinted on several occasions in the past eight years, right from when his client’s copyright had been infringed on.
Igelige called on the NCC to as a matter of public importance investigate, prosecute and appropriately sanction the alleged violators when found guilty.