A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, May 2nd, delivered judgement on the copyright infringement suit filed by Raconteur Productions against Omoni Oboli and her Dioni Visions Productions as well as FilmOne distribution for the film “Okafor’s Law”.
The complainant had claimed that the defendants violated their copyright originally assigned to them by Jude Idada, the film’s writer.
The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba said the complainant failed to provide sufficient and credible evidence to prove authorship and ownership of the screenplay and/or script of the feature film, “Okafor’s Law” therefor, cannot be vested with Copyright of the film.
Owner of Raconteur Productions, Chioma Onyenwe, in a Medium post, said her legal team “provided a copy of Jude’s screenplay and his accompanying Canadian Guild of Writers copyright registration dated January 2015 with an analysis of both screenplays as well as the screenplay purchase agreement between Raconteur Productions and Jude”.
Chioma also added that she had gone into distribution talks with FilmOne, but the latter terminated the letter of intent which it had already sent to Raconteur Productions. Subsequently, Chioma said she learnt FilmOne was conducting talks with Omoni on the same film.
“I am of the view that FilmOne felt that Omoni was a more commercially viable producer and shared my screenplay that was in their possession with her,” she stated in the post.
In a statement following the judgement, Omoni Oboli said: “The evidence before the Court showed that the Plaintiff’s proposed Movie Production arrangement did not materialize as the said arrangement was in fact cancelled by FilmOne due to the Plaintiff’s inability to comply with the conditions and production deadlines specified by FilmOne.”
In response, Chioma said, “There was no defence! Omoni’s defence was her claim that she had registered the title Okafor’s law in 2014 and not a script with the National Film & Video Censors Board (NFVCB)”
While Omoni applauds the judgement and the “court’s commitment to do Justice without fear or favour,” Chioma on the other hand, describes it as “a grave miscarriage of justice and is indicative of the lack of knowledge and apathy regarding Intellectual property and Entertainment transactions in the Nigerian Judicial system.”