We have identified those involved but we don’t have the legal backing. And those that we spent six years prosecuting were given three months of imprisonment or option of N10, 000 as fine.
April 20, 2015 – Filmmakers in Nigeria today called for legal reforms to stop the menace of piracy which is threatening to obliterate their means of livelihood.
The filmmakers are specifically calling for review of current law that prescribed three months jail term with option of fine amounting to N10,000 only.
They are demanding that the law be amended to reflect death penalty for piracy the way it is in India and some other countries where piracy has been successfully controlled.
The filmmakers who visited the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola following brazen display and sales of pirated products in the streets of Lagos told the governor that legal reforms is required if the menace must stopped.
Speaking during the visit, President Licensed Film Exhibitors, Mr. Gabriel Okoye, aka Gabosky said the present legal framework provides incentive to venture into piracy.
“We have located the den of these pirates. We have identified those involved but we don’t have the legal backing. And those that we spent six years prosecuting were given three months of imprisonment or option of N10, 000 as fine.
“That is the law of our country. In Nigeria we celebrate piracy but our colleagues in other countries enjoy better arm of the law. For instance in India, it is death penalty”, he said.
Gabosky said pirates have rendered the money and efforts of filmmakers in the country meaningless.
“When we went to Alaba International Market, the security officials who went with us sustained several degrees of injuries”, he said to strengthen his arguments that powerful people were behind the booming business.
In his reaction, reputable filmmaker, Mr. Tunde Kelani said that in the past pirates wait for producers to release their films before they pirate copies but that there is a disturbing trend in which the pirates go ahead of producers to release films.
“ But the new trend now is that while the film is still in the cinema and not officially released by the producer, they are pirated and sold openly in the streets of Lagos unhindered”, he said adding that the centre of the activity is Alaba market, Ojo Local Government.
“We need to do something otherwise we will be sending the wrong signal that pirates are above the law. And we want the Federal Government to elevate piracy to the class of armed robbery, financial crimes and others. And promulgate laws that will hinder sales of pirated works”, he said.
He described the development as disheartening for investors.
“We will be appealing that the Alaba International Market especially the electronic division be shut to serve as first warning to those who pirates intellectual work”, he said.
Also speaking, another filmmaker, Mr. Tunji Bamishigbin said piracy will lead to joblessness in the industry and called for concerted effort to stem the tide.
While addressing the filmmakers, Fashola said he understood the value of the industry in terms of contribution to the economy.
“Please don’t give up. You will win this battle. It is not just the filmmakers, the book writers and musicians and everyone who lives on his intellectual gift must join the fight.
“For as long as it takes, I will be on your side until this war is won. Stealing of intellectual property that we call piracy is not peculiar to Nigeria, it happens in other countries.
“They haven’t successfully overcome it but they have put it under control through different measures. And some of them you have alluded to. And it is those measures that we must adopt in full quantum.
“And the first thing to agree about is the need for law enforcement because there is a law that prohibit piracy; either weak or not. If there is law enforcement, we can begin to send messages that if anyone violates the law, he must face the full weight of the law”, he said.
Fashola said it will require multiplicity of action including technology to stop the menace.
“ We will seek to use technology to solve the problem that technologies have created. We are working with some of you to ensure that we produce software that will make piracy impossible.
“Piracy will not go away but we must stay ahead of them. And one of the measures we also think can help is investing in community cinemas because through this, you can beat the pirates to the game.
“And in one weekend for instance one can make all his money and that is what happens in India. We have to attack from many fronts”, he said.