2nd, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos delivered judgment on the copyright
infringement suit filed against Omoni Oboli and her Dioni
Visions production outfit as well as FilmOne distribution for the feature film “Okafor’s Law,” by Raconteur
plaintiff had said the defendants infringed on their copyright which was
assigned to them by the writer Jude
Ibrahim Buba said the plaintiff failed to adduce sufficient
and credible evidence to prove authorship and ownership of the screenplay
and/or script of the feature film, Okafor’s Law, cannot be vested with Copyright of the film.
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, who said she had gone into distribution talks with
FilmOne, but the latter terminated the letter of intent which it had sent
Raconteur Productions. Later on, Chioma said she heard FilmOne was in talks
with Omoni on the said feature 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 said in her post.
Omoni, in her
statement following the judgement said that “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.”
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)”
Continuing, Chioma said the defendants had approached her for an
out-of-court settlement. She said:
I was initially offered a payment of N7.5 million, a new coproduction
deal this time with Omoni & FilmOne. However, I would have had to sign an
NDA and thrown Jude under the bus as well as withdraw the case. I responded to
her offer and asked for a written apology from Filmone and for the payment of
any sum to come as a license fee for the screenplay (We upped the sum to N15
million to include Jude’s compensation) and for Jude to be credited as the
writer in the film end credits. She was willing to pay but she wasn’t going to
admit to any wrongdoing which would have inadvertently been the case had she
signed a license agreement or given Jude credit.
agree that Omoni and Jude had had a conversation on the project where Omoni
shared the idea of a feature film with Okafor’s
theme with Jude.
Omoni said in
her statement that Jude, in his testimony in court, said he was later contacted
by Omoni to
prepare the draft screenplay for the movie for the sum of N750,000.00 (Seven
Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira).
She added that
Jude said he
did not forward any screenplay and/or script to Omoni Oboli for the movie.
Chioma, in her Medium post also
said Jude said that no monies were paid to him by Omoni and no agreement was
executed between himself and Omoni as regards the screenplay.
applauded the judgement and the “court’s
commitment to do Justice without fear or favour,” Chioma described 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.”
Chioma may be appealing the court’s decision. In concluding her
post, she said: “This only reaffirms to me why this case is so important and
despite this setback, I will continue to fight until justice is administered.”