Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), Nigeria’s sole Collective Management Organization for cinematograph films has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for paying attention to the need to end movie piracy and related forms of intellectual property rights abuse in Nigeria.
It would be recalled during his recent meeting with the permanent secretary and directors of the Federal Ministry of Information, as widely reported in the media, President Buhari had charged law enforcement agencies to “identify the perpetrators, sponsors and collaborators of copyright piracy, and bring them to justice.”
According to media reports, Mr. President specifically urged law enforcement agencies to curb piracy in the entertainment industry, particularly Nollywood, noting that Nollywood practitioners have built a world-class industry through their own sweat and it is therefore incumbent on government to accord the industry necessary support.
Responding to this development, AVRS chairman, Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun commended the significant presidential directive and expressed the readiness of AVRS to partner with law enforcement agencies and the media in the task to curb movie piracy in Nigeria, which, according to him, has continued to hamper growth efforts in Nollywood.
Ali-Balogun, however, stated that the President needs to do more than just admonishing the law enforcement agencies; he needs to urgently follow up with the following initiatives: *An immediate setting up of anti-piracy squad akin to SARS with an AIG/DIG in charge just as OBJ did for drugs counterfeiting.
*An Executive Bill to amend the copyright law and make piracy an economic crime-like stealing, bunkering, drug trafficking with stiffer penalty with no option of fine. At the moment it is not considered an economic crime. If you steal a blackberry phone you go to jail without an option of fine but if you pirate a film you are asked to pay a fine of N10, 000 or go to jail for 3 months.
The creative industries’ contribution to the GDP can no longer be ignored going by the figures spurned by the current rebasing of the nation’s economy, hence the urgent need for all hands to be on deck to fight this piracy menace with every might that could be mustered.