Thirty years after he took record manufacturing company African Songs and its subsidiary Take your choice stores to court, , popular musician, Chief Sunday Adekeye (King Sunny Ade ), was yesterday awarded N500 million as damages, for the infringing of his works with additional cost N3 million for prosecuting the suit.
The two companies were ordered to pay the sum by Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Lagos, while delivering judgment in the suit first instituted by the musician in 1975.
Sunny Ade had stated in his statement of claim that in 1975, a contract dispute arose between him and the two companies culminating to a judgement delivered by Justice Dosumu presiding over a Lagos high court.
According to him, in the said judgement 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 back to him, but before the master tape could be returned the chairman 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, 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 had contended that he was the author, composer, and producer of all the musical works numbering about 22.
He therefore demanded for damages in the sum of one Billion Naira jointly and severally, in addition the order of the court ordering 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, the contract he signed with the two companies does not include returning of the master tapes to him, consequently urged the court to award N5million against Sunny Ade and in their favour.
In his judgement, Justice 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 N500 milion, he also ordered that the master tapes should be return to him since it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is the owner of the copyright.
The claim against other defendants were struck out on the ground that no enough evidence were adduced against them.