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MTN Liberia Indicted

-For Over US$43.5 Million

By R. Joyclyn Wea

The Management of Lonestar Communication Corporation MTN (Lonestar CELL) has been indicted for damages for the unauthorized use of Intellectual Property.

The company was dragged to the Civil Law Court by Liberian Artists, Peter C. Kamara, Francis R. Wollo, and Sam Payedo of the group known as “PCK & LFrankie” along with DJ WEEZY for playing one of its widely love songs entitle “Kill Your Dog” without their consent and authorization.

Their twelve (12) Count complaint to the Court indicated that on December 5, 2016, a meeting was held between the plaintiffs (“PCK & LFrankie” along with DJ WEEZY) and that of the defendant (Lonestar CELL) at its MTN Liberia headquarters in Congo Town.

The purpose was to discuss the use of the complainants’ song entitle “Kill Your Dog” and also known “I Here” which was very popular and widely circulated and admired by most Liberians during the period mentioned, to be used as a ring-back tune for the company’s customers.

It was discussed by parties during the meeting that MTN Liberia charged her customers US$0.50 per unit download monthly and that the profits generated from the ring-back tune will be shared at or on a fifty-fifty (50-50) profit basis between the parties.

The complainants alleged that since the discussion on December 5, 2016, and including the time of the filing of such action of damages for wrong or for the unauthorized use of its song by the company, there was absolutely no agreement reached between them even though there was an understanding for the use of the song “Kill Your Dog” and the defendant went to use the song as ring-back tune for its customers throughout the country and abroad without their consent and approval.

The action by MTN is said to be in violation of section 9.1, section 9.26(b), and section 9.29 of the Liberia Intellectual Property Act, of 2016, by the illegal and unauthorized use of the plaintiff’s song as ring-back tune on their platform and portraits for posters and flyers thereby depriving them of the needed income and equitable remuneration that have been realized from the MTN customers, which would have been realized from any other GSM Company for the good of plaintiffs.

They further clarified that the December 5, 2016 meeting, did not request the use of plaintiff’s portraits for promotional activities, notwithstanding, MTN went on and designed and printed their “PCK & LFrankie” portraits for use of its promotional activities without seeking the consent and approval, thus denying them right to use same for promotional activities by other GSM companies operating in Liberia.

The failure of MTN Liberia to have sought the consent and approval of the artists for the use of its portraits is also a violation of their rights; something that led to the filing of said lawsuit.

“The illegal use of plaintiffs’ song and portraits by the defendant, and in an attempt to have the matter resolve short of litigation, plaintiffs requested the defendant to make an equitable contribution of US40.10 per designed and printed portrait multiply by a minimum of 500,000 customers amounting to US$900,000.00 for a period of 18 months, from December 2016 to June 2018,” the complaint.

Meanwhile, effort to get Lonestar MTN didn’t materialize as no was willing to comment on the matter.

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