BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Despite humongous breakthroughs recorded by the Nigerian entertainment industry, piracy remains one of its greatest challenges, resulting in colossal loss of revenues that run into billions of naira annually.
No thanks to advancement in technology. Here, ace Nollywood actor turned producer, director and distributor, Desmond Elliot, opens up on how the scourge has also affected him since he became producer, and also suggests viable ways forward.
‘We need to find a stronger name for piracy because I believe the existing name sounds too soft and foreign. Maybe we should simply label it ‘stealing’.
This is because, until we begin to treat perpetrators of this nefarious act the same way we treat criminals, there isn’t going to be any success for us in this battle. I mean, it should be seen as the stealing of someone else’s property and copyright.
These enemies realise that each time they do this, they affect, negatively, the growth of the sector because the people who do objective films will no longer be able to do them since they cannot get enough fund from them anymore.
It’s painful and that’s why I argue that piracy should deviate from being just a civil crime to a criminal offence.
Worst of it all is that next to nothing is being done about it. In those days as an actor, I never really understood what piracy was when my marketers would be complaining that our films were not selling. Now I understand, being a producer and a distributor for the past five years. The last film I released, before getting to Abuja where I have a store, was already released in Abuja. Isn’t that incredible?
That was in December 2013! Entertainment is a huge sector in Nigeria in terms of empowering youths, remuneration for people who work hard and in terms of creating a balanced economy.
Thank God we already have a government that has been able to identify the sector as a potential money-spinner for any nation. Now, what it should do is help curb the menace of piracy by creating a policing system, that is, a section of the police that will deal with piracy in the industry.
This intellectual property theft was actually one of the reasons we visited the president recently.
Though, the major reason behind the visit was to see to the establishment of a physical property for the industry. We realized that Nigeria as a nation is strong.
We also realized that it won’t make sense for Nollywood filmmakers to be in different parts of the world, next to been praised as kings, and yet we do not have a hold, so to speak, on something physical at least to say “This is where we come from”.
Hence, we decided to put our feet down in Abuja. Now we have a land and a place that is being constructed to operate from. But that still does no eliminate the devil called piracy and that’s why we must deal with it by creating for it a special unit in the police.’