Seye Kehinde, founder and publisher of bestselling soft sell magazine, City People, has been dragged to court for copyright theft and the passing off of someone else’s writing as his own work.
In a lawsuit filed at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi-Lagos against Kehinde and City People Media Group, owners of City People Magazine, one Dayo Akintobi, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of GRA Ikeja Today Newsmagazine, alleges that Kehinde stole an article he wrote and published it in City People Magazine without his consent or authorization.
Kehinde is also accused of passing off the writing as his own when he in fact knew that he did not himself author the article.
On the 23rd day of March 2017, states the lawsuit, the GRA Ikeja Today Magazine publisher personally conducted a one-on-one interview with one Mr. Edward Akinlade, a Lagos businessman and hotel owner at the latter’s office in GRA Ikeja.
After the interview, Akintobi wrote an article about the subject of the interview titled, “In the Beginning was Suru Group,” and published it both on his GRA-Ikeja Today Magazine’s website and in the May 2017 print edition of the publication. The article centered around Mr. Akinlade’s investments in hotels and real property in Nigeria and how such investments have impacted the society at large in terms of the socio-economic advancement of GRA-Ikeja, Lagos.
According to the suit, in June 2017, Kehinde published an article titled, “Why Suru Group Invested in Hotels @ GRA, Lagos,” in both the online and print versions of the early-June City People Magazine. The article was an exact word-for-word copy in all material respects as Akintobi’s original article earlier published in GRA Ikeja Today Magazine excepting its title and the accompanying photograph of Akinlade which were changed. Authorship of the article was stated to be “By Seye Kehinde.”
Also stated in the court papers is the fact that after the lawyers for the GRA Ikeja Today publisher contacted Kehinde to express their displeasure at the infringement of their client’s copyright, the byline of the online version of the article was immediately changed from “By Seye Kehinde” to “By Reporter.”
Akintobi swears in his Statement on Oath that he never gave his consent or any form of authorization to Kehinde or indeed to anyone at all to reproduce or re-publish the article. He believes that he alone enjoys the exclusive right to control the reproduction, publication, and distribution of his article in any material form to the public, for commercial purposes.
In knowingly reproducing, publishing, and distributing the article in material form to the public in City People Magazine then, the lawsuit claims that Kehinde and City People Media Group infringed on Akintobi’s copyright for a purpose prejudicial to him. When they failed to obtain his permission before they reproduced and distributed his article for commercial purposes and derived benefit therefrom, Seye Kehinde and City People Media Group breached Akintobi’s statutory rights and caused irreparable loss and damage to him.
The lawsuit goes on to state that Kehinde’s passing off of Akintobi’s writing as his own was an additional wrongful act, one that resulted in further injury to Akintobi’s person, property, reputation, and the like.
On account of these injuries to him, Akintobi believes he is entitled to compensation and is therefore claiming against Seye Kehinde and City People Media Group jointly and severally, the sum of N50 million being damages he suffered from both defendants’ unlawful infringement of his copyright; Aggravated Damages in the sum of N10 million; and Exemplary Damages in the sum of another N10 million.
Akintobi is also seeking from the Court an Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining Seye Kehinde and City People Media Group from further display of his article on City People magazine’s website or any other online or print media without his express written permission.
The lawsuit, numbered FHC/L/CS/1243/18, was filed on the 25th of July 2018, and has since been served on the Defendants.
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