That Buhari Order On Copyright Piracy | Independent Newspapers Limited
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That Buhari Order On Copyright Piracy

Posted: Aug 1, 2015 at 1:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

IF President Muhammadu Buhari keeps quiet after his order to security agencies across the country to identify those involved in copyright piracy and bring them to justice like past governments, then the entertainment sector will continue to suffer the scourge of those feeding fat from their sweat.

Buhari recently vowed to save the country’s entertainment industry from pirates. He said the Nollywood film industry was doing well but unless it was backed, it would be “ruined by pirates”. The industry is believed to be worth $5bn (£3bn), but filmmakers still struggle to make a profit because of piracy.
Despite its low budgets, the films which focus on love, betrayal and witchcraft is hugely popular across Africa.

This may have spurred the president to give the stern order to security agencies. Buhari said he would do everything possible to protect the entertainment industry. “They [practitioners] have built an industry with their own sweat”, he said. It is therefore incumbent on us to give them the necessary support,” Buhari reportedly said at a function.
There is however more beside a verbal order to security agencies. The security personnel need proper orientation on piracy. It will interest you to know that most policemen don’t know that selling counterfeit CDs and DVDs on the streets is an offence. Until recently, Customs officials did not see anything wrong in allowing a large shipment of DVDs of both local and foreign artistes into the country. Some still do not see it as nothing even. Nigerians openly patronize sellers of fake DVDs in traffic jams under the noses of policemen at check points!

That is why; security agencies and the general public must first be educated via a very coordinated enlightenment program while the renewed fight against piracy kicks off.

There are shops across major cities and towns in the country where counterfeit works of popular artistes are sold. The pirates have an army of foot soldiers that does the ‘door to door’ sales more or less. They walk freely, selling their ‘wares’, most times with loudspeakers!

In countries with zero tolerance for piracy activities, these set of people hide in the dark to sell their ‘wares’ with law enforcement agents breathing down their necks by the minute.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC should be empowered to tackle piracy head on. That government parastatal is practically sleeping at the moment, not with the volume of piracy activities going on. That or perhaps it has been overwhelmed.

The Nigerian Copyright Laws should be amended to create more stringent punishments for violators. The idea of a convicted music or movie pirate paying peanut as punishment on conviction by the court has emboldened the pirates.

The judiciary that drags cases forever, making the complainant to burn out and unwilling to pursue it further, should be encouraged to dispense not just cases involving alleged copyright theft but all other cases as well, promptly.

President Buhari’s order is a sign that he means well for the entertainment sector, but then, we have seen past presidents blow hot air and pledged to combat the menace of piracy on assumption of office. The sincere hope of Nigerians and practitioners of the sector is that Buhari does not turn out to be like past presidents who only remember that there are musicians and actors when they need them for political campaigns or to grace state functions and even wedding parties of their daughters or sons.


On The Prowl with Justin Akpovi-Esade,