The Nigerian Copyright Act and the Menace of Piracy in Nollywood: Contemporary Realities Thereof
Chisimdi Udoka IHENTUGE
Department of Theatre Arts
Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education
Owerri, Imo State
Nollywood, the video film industry in Nigeria, though a late comer in global film market, has carved out a niche for itself in many spheres. It projects Nigerian culture and indeed that of the African continent to the outside world by telling our story from within, most times employing our cultural heritages and traditional patterns. This has had serious soft power on the nation’s cultural diplomacy. Again, the industry has had great impact on the security situation in the country. This it has done by keeping a lot of people, especially the youths, busy and gainfully engaged there by taking them out of the streets, and reducing the number of unemployed youths and, by extension, potential criminals. The industry still has much more to contribute to Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy and national security if conscious efforts are made to tackle some of the major problems of the industry. One of such problems is the menace of piracy. The Nigerian Copyright Act contains the statutory provisions for the protection of copyright in the country. This work is a discussion of gray and weak areas in the Act in line with contemporary socio-economic realities. It is recommended that such aspects of the Act as copyright administration, action of infringement/ right of prosecution, penalties, available remedies and proof of innocence need urgent reviews. Also recommended are ways of setting vigorous machinery in motion for the enforcement of the provisions of the Act, including the role such organizations as SONTA should play.
The medium of film creates the illusion of reality and induces same in the human brain. Hence, in the exact words of Awaeze and Nworgu, “this powerful medium of light and sound takes its viewer to the realm of reality or believability” (37). This accounts for why many film viewers tend to identify with incidents in the films as well as empathize with the characters as if they are realistic. One practical instance is the thinking that most of the actors/actresses naturally live out in real live their roles in films. The comic dimensions of comic actors such as Nkem Owoh, Chiwetalu Agu, Charles Awurum and John Okafor; the meanness of actors such as Pet Edochie, Sam Dede, Alex Usifo, Hanks Anuku And Gentle Jack; the wickedness in many roles played by Patience Ozokwor; and the romantic dispositions of Ramsey Noah, Emeka Ike, Genevieve Nnaji and Muna Obiekwe are all expected of them when see in real life situations. Most importantly, the fans of the artists in Nigerian video films and music expect to meet their stars in real life leaving in the same luxury and affluence they portray on screen. What a utopia! Until they are plagued with one ailment or the other, or face with one serious challenge of life or the other and have to cry out for financial help the lowly lives of these stars and celebrities are hardly known. Endless is the list of prominent Nigerian film and music industries who have been face with such embarrassing situations that revealed how poorly they live. Special mention must be made of Patty Obasi, Kayode Odumosu (known widely by his stage name, Pa Kasumu), Enebeli Elebuwa, Pete Eneh, Ngozi Nwosu, Cassandra Gabriel (whose stage name was Sisi Caro) and the ace Yoruba actor Dento. Poor remuneration which usually followed the hard work our artists put into their works. This though may not apply to most marketers of the industry.
This work believes that piracy is the major cause of the penury witnessed in our creative industries. It is therefore an effort at examining the Nigerian Copyright Act to see contemporary issues that need to be included in the act to aid the fight against piracy in the industry. In the exact words of Y. O. Ali,
The importance and pre-eminence accorded to copyright in the protection of intellectual property all over the world has made it imperative for us to have a look at our own local legislation to enable us see whether we are moving with the realities of the modern commercial world. It is an old saying that “no man is an island” (page?).
By piracy here, the unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, and/or trademarked product (intellectual property theft) is meant and not an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea.
The Menace of Piracy In Nollywood
The Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language defines piracy as “the unauthorized publication, reproduction or use of another’s invention, idea or literary creation”; and a pirate as, “a person who appropriates without right the work of another” (962). Ewulukwa sees piracy as “illegal reprinting or reproduction of the works of another which is the subject of copyright” (377). In the film industry, piracy takes various shades. In one form of piracy, a film is mass produced by the pirate and sold out to the public. Another form of piracy is the unapproved renting out of films to the public. Yet in another form the theme music of a film is adopted and used for other purposes without the permission of the filmmakers. It is also on record that in some other instances, films are shown to a public without the consent of the filmmaker. All these forms of piracy, and more, apply to the Nigerian video film industry, Nollywood. It will be right to state that what form piracy takes, commercial gain is the primary aim of the pirate.
One major issue in Nollywood since inception is piracy. Piracy is the bane of the industry and has become somewhat cancerous. This problem has assumed a monster status in the industry and appears as incurable as HIV/AIDs at the moment. Haynes and Okome quote Kenneth Nnebue as saying that piracy is the AIDs of Nollywood (30). The irony of this situation is that piracy is in a way becoming an acceptable anomaly in the Nigerian society. Discussing the legitimate and acceptable stance piracy is almost assuming in Nigeria, Akande draws this analogy:
When armed robbers come shooting in broad daylight without the mask and holding their victims hostage longer than imagined, then one cannot but think of the vicious comfort of today’s criminalities. Such unconcealed facial identity is a function of the naked truth about the complexity of our problems…. It is disheartening that these thieves continue to operate like a legitimate cabal. At different times, they have held hostage, the rightful owners of intellectual property and the law enforcement agent who have attempted to comb the area for seizures (29).
The pirates in Nollywood have so adopted the viciousness in the manner with which they have damned all consequences to operate with comfort and ease not minding the statutes of the land and the regulatory agencies. It has become such an open secret that certain areas and/or markets are famous as the dens of pirates of Nollywood films, Nigerian music, and literary works. In the words of Isola, “pirates are so much ravaging the industry that it has taken the resilience of the entrepreneurs to have survived for so long” (243). As soon as a film is released in Nollywood, it takes only a couple of days for pirates to rip it off. Worthy of note is the fact that new digital technologies that facilitate mass production are making the global film industry generally and Nollywood in particular more vulnerable to the activities of pirates. This is so much so because the facilities that can be used to illegally copy and mass produce films are easy to acquire in terms of both finance and convenience.
To meaningfully discuss the issue of piracy in Nollywood, certain other issues need to be glossed over. Firstly is the issue of poverty and corruption. The high level of poverty in the country has necessitated various sharp and shades of corrupt practices as means of daily survival. Piracy is one of such. The literary icon Chinua Achebe in his book The Trouble with Nigeria emphatically declared that, “keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping goat from eating yam” (48). This view can be said to be a little bit exaggerated though. Again, poverty has a role to play in the patronage of pirated works. Pirates make use of inferior materials because they are cheap. This reduces the cost of production and engenders the reduction in the price of pirated copies. A good percentage of Nigerian consumers of Nollywood films are poor. This accounts for the preference of buying the cheaper copies. The fact that such cheap and inferior copies have defects, matter less to them.
There is also the issue of culture of borrowing or hiring prevalent among Nigerians as against the culture of buying. This applies to Nollywood with double emphasis and is greatly related to poverty and paucity of funds. The cost of renting a film is by far lower than the cost of outright purchase of such a film.
There are in existence people who believe that it is not all about the activities of pirates that is bad. Hence, they uphold the view that there are traces of positivity to piracy. Theodore Levitte is one of such persons. In a work, entitled, “Innovative Imitation,” Levitte argues that a strategy of product imitation might to the market as profitable as a strategy of product innovation (cited in Kotler 269). Steven P. Schnaars also concurred with this view of Levitt in his book, Managing Imitation: How Later Entrants Seize Markets from Pioneers. In the case of Nollywood some reasons have been advanced as causes of piracy. These indirectly give justification to the existence of piracy. In a discussion of the “Challenges of Home Video and Film Production in Nigeria,” Joy-Rita Mogbogu asserts that pirates aid the wide circulation of films especially where, for whatever reason, inadequate copies of such films are produced
If, for instance the producers of a particular film are only able to produce 60 thousand copies which of course, are for distribution across not enough the length and breadth of the nation, the first set of people to purchase are the pirates who in turn duplicate into thousands…. But, if the producers… mass-produce in hundreds of thousands, market and distribute these effectively, pirates would lose the market to the rightful owners (208).
Seun also believes that pirates aid distribution saying, “As nature never allows for a vacuum, piracy is at 82% because distribution is grossly inadequate” (Para 3). There are some other scholars who uphold the view that pirates help ensure a wider circulation of the films outside the shores of the country. While discussing factors that aided the growth and popularity of Nollywood, Ibok Ekpenyong re-echoes the words of Steven Gray who posits that:
Nigerian expatriates… (are) stuffing their suitcases with (Nigerian) video tapes and VCD on trips to Britain and, eventually, the United States. Some of the films… (are) passed on to relatives. Others however wound up in the hands of distributors, who have copied an unknown number of DVDs and sold them to stores or over the internet (70).
Sadly, Ekpenyong followed that re-echoing of Gray’s view by adding that, “This has contributed to the growth of Nigerian video films in no small measure.” It may be right to say that Ekpenyong’s view above is affirmed by this assertion by the The Economist:
The merchants curse the pirates, but in a way they are a blessing. Pirate gangs were probably Nollywood’s first exporters. They knew how to cross tricky borders and distribute goods across a disparate continent where vast tracts of land are inaccessible. Sometimes, they filed empty bags with films when returning form an arms delivery- often they used films to bribe bored guards at remote borders. The Pirates Created the Pan-African Market… (the market) now feeds (Emphasis mine) (page?).
Whatever the reason(s) the pirates and their patrons may advance for indulging the act, or the audience give for patronizing piracy, the effect of piracy on the industry is grave. “The negative effect of piracy is better imagined than be felt; this is because piracy kills imitative” (Tejumaiye 266). The artist and the industry generally loose a lot intellectually and materially to piracy. Discussing the activities of pirates in Nigeria, Tony Abulu, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, states that pirates “...make a hefty pay day remaining anonymous. All they have to do is sit by and wait for the hardworking Nigerian artist to seek funding, create the products then get ripped off” (46). Supporting this view, Victor Akande cites the Nollywood director Lancelot Imasuen, as describing the current piracy problem as cheapening the work of art and total disregard for intellectual property which has made Nollywood films so cheap to the extent that “pure water is more expensive than Nollywood movies” (13). Former Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyeli, once asserted that, “Nollywood is the greatest cultural export and if not for piracy, the film industry would have over taken oil” (emphasis added) (cited in Akande 55). It must be pointed out that piracy is a global issue. Evuleocha puts this clearer thus:
International pirating of films is rampant. The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that more than 20 million pirated video discs, and 4.5 million pirated videotapes, were seized in 2000. Such pirating violates the international laws that protect copyright works (409).
Pirating of Nigerian video films is done not only within the country alone but also in every other part of the world where a market for Nigerian films exists. Evuleocha again explains further:
It is not known how many Nigerian movies are sold in the USA, but many vendors insist their sales are rising briskly. However, as DVDs and copying devices have become more widely available, pirated Nigerian movies have flooded the market, cutting sales by as much as 30 percents. The films normal sell for around $15.99 for a DVD and $10 for a videotape, while the pirated version sell for as little as $4 each (409).
Fighting Piracy with the Nigerian Copyright Act: Contemporary Issues Thereof
Concerted efforts at curbing the menace of pirating Nigerian films in more developed countries seem to be more rewarding than they are here. Abulu gives an instance of this as he describes the success of a joint effort by the filmmakers Association of Nigeria (FAN) USA and the King’s County District Attorney’s Office in New York to fight pirates of Nigerian films in 2010. In his exact words,
Following a well orchestrated sting dubbed: “Operation Access Nollywood” nine notorious Nollywood movies counterfeiting stores in Brooklyn, New York were raided by D. A. investigators. District Attorney Charles Hynes held an international press conference where prestigious publications… and several mainstream American media gathered to witness the launch of criminal investigations into boot legging of Nollywood films by the alleged criminals (46).
At the briefing, over 10,000 DVDs, high volume republication equipments, thousand of empty discs, bank accounts, invoices and check books (sic) belonging to the alleged perpetrators were seized by the D. A. investigators as evidence for the prosecution of the alleged boot-leggers. Also, M’Bayo and Onabajo cite Okoh Aihe as saying thus:
I have a lawyer-friend in California, USA. The last time I travelled to the U.S., he showed me a corner shop that had to be closed down after it was discovered to be making $100,000 on each pirated Nigerian home video work (74).
The case is different in Nigeria where not much progress is being made in curbing the menace of piracy. Gray is re-echoed in Evuleocha as voicing the concern that, “the pirating of Nigerian films will probably continue in part because the filmmakers can’t afford the high legal cost of fighting it” (409). Another reason for the monster status of piracy in Nigeria is that the pirates are very united, like a legitimate cabal, to resist efforts at dislodging them in a manner similar to the analogical picture painted by the Hip Hop artist sound sultan of the bush meat catching the hunter. Ipso factor, locations and markets that are famous for their assumed uncontrollable positions in the face of the law against piracy are described as ‘dens of pirates’ and marked out as dangerous spots to confront even by law enforcement agencies (Akande 91). On several occasions, suspected pirates in some markets, particularly Alaba International Market, Ojo Alaba, Lagos, have resisted arrests. They have also mobilized their members and other thugs to launch attacks on filmmakers and other owners of pirated works, anti-piracy team of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, as well as officers and men of the Nigerian Police and Military. Some of such attacks are with very dangerous weapons – some more sophisticated than those of our law enforcement agencies (Akande 30-31). It is equally on record that some other agencies in Nigeria have at one time or the other suffered such fates. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Onitsha drug market is an instance here.
One important point that needs to be noted here is that the Copyright Act in Nigeria is faulty as it never placed the right of any copyright owner in the custody of any enforcement agency including the Nigerian Copyright Commission. Infringement of copyright shall be actionable only at the suit of the owner, assignee or an exclusive licensee of the copyright (see 16  of the Act). On several occasions, with reference to the Copyright Act, the officials of NCC have been brought to spidery legs even in court as they are reminded of their lack of audacity to apprehend infringes of a property “the right of which the owners have not put in the agency’s custody” (Akande 30). Where right owners did not formally report infringement, institute the raid, or take court actions, the enforcement agents are seen as being overzealous and overstepping their bounds.
Another issue is that the Copyright Actgives exclusive jurisdiction for the trial of offences or disputes under the act not only to the Federal High Court but also only the one exercising jurisdiction in the place where the infringement occurred. In his work “Copyright Owners and Civil Remedies for Copyright Infringements in Nigeria: Sleep No More! (1),” Senator Ihenyen gives this exposition about the issue:
This statutory provision is inconsistent with section 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution:
Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that state for redress (para. 9).
Ihenyen goes further to posit thus:
If section 46 of the Copyright Act has given exclusive jurisdiction over copyright issues to the Federal High Court, why has it provided this contrary qualification under section 16 of same? The Federal High Court has a single jurisdiction. Its various divisions across the Federation are only established for administrative convenience, and not separate from one another. The statutory authority for this position is stated in section 19(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Act, and for the purpose of distinct clarity, it is reproduced thus:
19. Division of the Court
(1) The Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction throughout the Federation, and for that purpose the whole area of the Federation will be divided by the Chief Judge into such number of Judicial Divisions or part thereof by such name that he may think fit.
(2) For the more convenient dispatch of business the Court may sit in any one or more Judicial Divisions as the Chief Judge may direct, and he may also direct one or more Judges to sit in any one or more of the Judicial Divisions (para. 12).
Ihenyen cites the case of M. K. O. Abiola v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), where the appellant was arrested in Lagos for declaring himself the elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was first arraigned before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court and subsequently before the Federal High Court, Abuja. When the issue of jurisdiction was raised by the appellant, the Supreme Court held that the Federal High Court has a single jurisdiction as it is only divided into judicial divisions for administrative convenience. Therefore, it was concluded that even where the appellant’s alleged offence had occurred in Lagos, the Federal High Court, Abuja Division still had jurisdiction over the matter (para. 13). Hence, it is not disputable that even if section 16(1) of the Copyright may have been driven by good intentions, it is counterproductive and doing great disservice to the fight against piracy in Nigeria. It puts the owner of copyright, assignee or exclusive licensee in a precarious position which may likely be injurious to his action. There is perhaps no better way to illustrate this potential danger than to reason along the following lines:
If for example an author based in Lagos suddenly realizes that a Port Harcourt-based entrepreneur is pirating his popular title, the author is supposed to commence the action at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. It is doubtless that such action would put the author and owner of copyright in the popular title at a serious inconvenience; having to shuttle between Lagos and Port Harcourt in the prosecution of the case (Ihenyen para. 14).
The issue of non-theatrical marketing of Nollywood films is another contemporary issue not addressed by the Copyright Act maybe because it had not become so prominent as at the time of the last amendment of the act. By this, we mean buying and consuming Nollywood products as services. Hence, the consumers here buy the content or soft copies of the films. Ancillary marketing/synergy involves a wide range of areas and activities. Such areas and activities include television screening, theme parks, consumer products, sound tracks, books, video games, interactive entertainment, Pay Per View (PPV), premium cable services, cable television, network television, television syndication, airlines and internet streaming. Yet, the most commonly used ancillary markets for film in Nigeria are terrestrial television, cable television, video clubs, and most recently, internet streaming. These new media delivery platforms have done both good and bad to the industry with their content delivery and online distribution.
This distribution platform has been pointed at as a signal to the death of Nollywood by a certain school of thought. Tony Abulu of the Filmmakers Association of Nigeria (FAN) USA paints of picture of the destructive nature of this system of distribution thus:
Let me break down the… issue so that everyone can understand how it can destroy every positive attempt by Nigerian artists to succeed. Presently, there are over sixty internet websites dedicated to presenting any African entertainment product to millions of people all over the world for free! … a film or music is released in Nigeria today and it will be on the internet the same evening streaming (showing) to millions of people for free!.... The hidden truth however is that websites charge advertising rent for banners that are placed on websites mainly from big … companies (46).
Very many other stake holders have also voiced out such concerns. Clarion Chukwura did not mince words in declaring that “African Magic ruined Nollywood marketing” (1). Fred Iwenjora contributes to the discourse by saying:
While Nigeria movies and its stakeholders are enjoying a road show... to celebrate its growth and escapades, strong indications are that this current celebration of Nollywood... as the third largest and fastest growing movie industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood will soon be a thing of the past considering the latest discovery that a website operated by a certain Devace Nigeria... and indeed several other websites show the latest Nollywood films free of charge even before their release in Nigeria to those who want to watch them. All you need to get into any film of your choice is just a click away. And it is on a full TV window which could be dubbed by anyone who cares (1).
To the veteran actor, Emeka Ike, the content delivery distribution platform has already done the dreaded harm on Nollywood. To him, Nollywood is dead already as a result of the distribution of Nollywood films by the content delivery platforms with impunity free of charge. There are other angels and issue to the online distribution/content delivery platform. Olusola Isola pinpoints such angels and issues:
The threat, however, is that this technology has expanded the scope of piracy, which is the bane of the home video industry in particular and the creative ventures in general. Since the laws governing the activities of operators of the internet are still evolving, even in the global environment, this imposes new challenges on drivers of the Nigerian home video industry to monitor illegal offering of the industry’s products on the internet. Even after tracking and detecting piracy of works on the internet, the mode of arresting and prosecution, and where the prosecution would take place, is bound to pose a big challenge. In the process, much funds, energy and goodwill may be lost and home video investors will be the loser for it. Therefore, the responsibility now falls on the industry to evolve creative and dynamic ways of tackling this challenge, which is bound to continue into the future (247).
If this work has been cited to this reasonable length, it is because of the important points contained in it about content delivery platforms as a new distribution network.
On the other side of the divide are scholars and film experts who ardently believe that content delivery/online distribution has come to revolutionize Nollywood for good. Discussing the emergence and activities of Multichoice (DSTV) through its African Magic Channel which shows mostly Nigerian movies to its multi million subscribers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Nwandiko is cited in Evuleocha as noting that “with time this exposure of the Nollywood film industry can only serve to improve the quality of movies produced” (410). Also, in a discussion of the threats and opportunities of the internet (video streaming), Olusola Isola asserts this:
The opportunity this internet video streaming is offering home video is that it removes the boundaries for expansion of the marketing of Nigerian home videos into the whole world. Already, some marketers have developed websites dedicated to marketing and promotion of Nigerian home videos where they make previews of such videos possible. Some are making it possible for the audience to subscribe to watch the videos only or to purchase a copy of such home videos online. This enhances the contribution of the Nigerian art industry into the global popular culture and bolsters the struggle against cultural imperialism with such contribution from the indigenous folk culture into the evolving global culture. Apart from this, it has the potential of expanding the financial base of artistes, producers and marketers, including all participants in the home video industry if well managed (246-247).
In a similar vein, Aliyu Daku, the founder of African Magic, an African TV content delivery platform, reacted to the threat by the Film, Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN) to close down all content distribution platforms by asserting that:
The truth is, banning Africa Magic channel from showing Nigerian movies won’t revive Nollywood’s CD sales. The only way to solve the problem is by making quality content to the new smart and ever evolving tech savvy audience by adapting your movies to the web and the new lifestyle of the viewers (Njoku 1).
Towing this line of argument, the renowned Nollywood female director, Amaka Igwe affirms that,
The internet will be very important in the near future for further distribution. We can already see the inroads made by the likes of IrokoTV. I believe that this is the time to start looking at legislation and rules of engagement for online distribution (Seun para. 8).
Also, Idachaba believes that,
In this era of globalization, the Nigerian film industry must find a place in the global market, if it is to actualize its commercial viability. The content industry is without doubt a huge market globally…. They are essentially a market for co-producing, buying, selling, financing and distributing contents. It provides for people involved in… content production and distribution industry, a conference and networking forum for discovering trends, and trade content rights on a global level. It is indeed a potential market for Nigerian video film to find buyer and platforms that can enrich their viability (168).
To Andy Amenechi, this digital distribution platform,
…implies a world where information and content is digitized, personalized and accessible ‘on-demand’ via multiple fixed and mobile platforms and devices. It is a world where the user is actively engaged, contributing to and interacting with services rather than passively consuming them. This has resulted in a fundamental shift in the way that users consume, perceive and value content and services. Ironically, this challenge also offers the most outstanding opportunity and prospect that has ever presented itself to Nollywood (25).
The list is truly endless. Online distribution and content delivery platforms are here to stay. This is one truth that Nollywood filmmakers should accept and brace up to because “the existing traditional distribution system has been stretched to its limit, unable to satisfy the every growing audience Nollywood has generated, all over the world” (Amenechi 25). Amenechi further advices that Nollywood filmmakers should really take cognizance of, and brace up to the digital revolution to stimulate alternate distribution channels and generate new revenue streams. The only issue to tackle about this is how to fashion out workable rules of engagement that will benefit the industry and the stake holders.
Most importantly, New Media may be our God-sent answer against piracy of intellectual property in the Nigerian Film Industry. It is now evident that the so-called war against piracy in Nigeria is an inside joke, the punchline of which nobody has whispered to the filmmakers... With that reality, it behooves on content producers to become more creative in areas of finding solution to this quagmire. It is time for a radical idea shift; from giving possession right to audience (to own the DVDs) to giving just rental or viewing rights on platforms that are mostly virtual i.e. internet, mobile devices, etc., on a pay-per-view basis. This kind of thinking helps to bypass the pirates to a large extent. Since at no point will video Discs exchange hands, they will have no platform to ply their evil trade, yet, contents get to the target audience (Odugbemi 6).
There is still hope in tackling the piracy issue in Nollywood. If the military government of General Murtala Mohammed sincerely fight traffic congestion in Lagos; if NAFDAC under Dora Akunyeli couldy surmount all odds to seal the Onitsha Head Bridge Drug Market; and if the civilian government of Babatunde Raji Fashola can subdue the notoriety of Oshodi then, all hopes are not lost on the piracy war in Nigeria. As Chairman of the Performing and Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS), Tony Okoroji expressed similar optimism say:
The issue of unauthorized copies is serious and appears insurmountable, but it can be defeated. Producers and marketers are losing millions of naira to pirates and there is therefore an urgent need to curb the excesses of these market demons who for the most part operate underground (cited in Mogbogu 209).
More radically oriented statute, right owners, and enforcement agency as well as string will and determination will be needed to achieve the desired result in the piracy war. The fight should not be left for government and her agencies only. All who have stakes in the industry should join forces to march the menace force by force. Laws against piracy and other copyright violations exist in Nigeria. Some of these laws, especially the Nigerian Copyright Act, need to be revisited and amended in line with contemporary socio-economic realities. The said amendment should cover newly generated issues and proffer stricter penalties for offenders. One of the most important the issues is that of content delivery platforms. Implementation is another issue here. Until offenders start getting due punishments in strict terms, no matter their weight and backings, piracy will not be arrested as expected.
Copyright owners have a good role to play here. They should not get tired of reporting cases of infringement and legally following such cases up. This will be more effective if tackled collectively. Tejumaiye puts it this way:
The artistes themselves should also come together through their associations to collectively fight piracy. The various guilds and associations, including SONTA, should team up and propose ways of tackling piracy. These can be articulated in form of bills to the National Assembly. A situation where the fight is being pursued on an individual basis is not good enough” (266).
Akande admonishes that right owners should not only show up in court as a mark of solidarity with the copyright commission, but should also do so with the services of legal experts to monitor judicial proceedings. They should also be willing to serve as witnesses when called upon. Again, there is need for right owners be aware of, and adhere to principles and approaches that worked for some other film industries. Most importantly, they should respect the intellectual rights of other people.
The point has to be made that without the patronage of the audience, pirates will not sale their wares. Hence, there is need to fight piracy from the audience angle. The audience should be enlightened on the effects of piracy and boot legging on the industry. Most of them need enlightenment on how to identify pirated copies of a film and other works of art. This is important as it is true that a lot of audience members buy pirated copies thinking they are original copies and at the same price. The government also has a more crucial work to do in the fight against piracy in Nigeria. No single entity, not even a criminal one, can overpower the government with a strong will. The Federal Government of Nigeria should realize the place of Nollywood in the National polity and what the collapse of the industry could occasion. Hence the need for a strong will to fight piracy. Special task force and/or monitoring team should be set up through the Nigerian copyright commission to tackle piracy. The pirate cabals have not become more deadened and faceless than the terrorist groups that have been reasonably dealt with in the country. A total state of emergency aimed at zero tolerance of piracy should be declared in the country. As if to support this view, Andy Amenechi, prominent Nollywood filmmakers, states thus:
For a start, I suggest the establishment of a special combined Anti Piracy Task Force, consisting of representatives of the Police, Copyright Commission, EFCC, SSS, SON, Customs, Corporations with an I. T. bias, Ministry of Justice, Filmmakers and Musicians, to map out a short term agenda, for a multi faceted offensive against copyright infringement and piracy and for the long term; a broad based strategy, that would include amending and strengthening existing inadequate laws (284).
Conclusively, it must be stated that whatever reactions and justifications being alluded to piracy particularly in Nollywood can be best summed up with this oxymoron ‘wonderful reasons for doing evil.’ The alleged positive contributions of piracy in Nollywood are a good the industry can do better without. Rather than hurt the industry, an end to piracy will be a huge blessing and dawn of a new era in the industry.
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