Barely three weeks ago, we informed you about Nollywood actress and scriptwriter, Allwell Ademola releasing her movie, 'Adeda' on DVD.
Naturally, this arm of the project excited her fans, friends and colleagues a great deal as one of the things this signalled was that the actress would once again reap bountifully from a project she had invested her nights, sweat, heard-earned money and investors into.
However, when we hit the streets of Lagos to take a peek at what movie retailers had for lovers of Nollywood movies, what we saw was quite heartbreaking and that putting it mildly.
Of course, we saw Allwell's movie, 'Adeda' but it was in the wrong hands.
Would it surprise you if we told you that the movie was already pirated? Oh yes, it was.
We know for a fact that an original copy of a DVD version of a Nollywood movie in Nigeria sells for N500 but the pirated copy was not pegged at N500. It was not pegged at N400; not N300; not even N200
To start with, the retailer of the pirated copies of movies was screaming, "N100... N100... N100 for your DVD here..."
This was quite shocking but the worst was yet to come.
We approached the young man selling the pirated DVDs and took a closer look. To our sheer horror, we discovered that his N100 selling price was not for a single movie in a DVD plate. Rather, each DVD plate had three full movies on it. By implication, this meant each movie on the DVD plate cost approximately N34.
At this point, we cast our mind to how long it took to complete the script of the movie, Adeda; how many pages of writing made up the pages of the script? How many nights did Allwell have to stay up late to get her story right? How much did she budget for the entire movie? How much did she pay the likes of Funsho Adeolu, Pasuma, Sola Kosoko, Jide Kosoko, Saidi Balogun and other members of the cast and production team? How much was spent on the premiere of the movie? How much was budgeted for publicity, promotion and marketing? How much did she spend on the production of the movie into DVD plates? So many unanswered questions; yet, the effort ended up in a DVD plate sold at N34 on the streets of Lagos.
As we walked away from the retailer of the DVD plates, he tuned up his vocal projection screaming, "Oya, see your awoof DVD here... Buy your N100 DVD here. No miss all these correct films..."
Adeda is a movie that reveals the trials of a helpless African woman. According to Allwell, it is a story of love and friendship, betrayal and the pains of losing a beloved.”
The movie was written and produced by Allwell Ademola while popular actor, Saidi Balogun directed the movie.
Adeda reels out prominent actors like Jide Kosoko, Jibola Pasuma, Saidi Balogun, Sola Kosoko, Biodun Okeowo, Funsho Adeolu, Eniola Olaniyan, Tayo Amokade Ijebu, Kunle Dasilva, Queen Oluwa, Ope Olusanya and a host of others.
The problem of piracy is one that has since seized the Nigerian creative industry by the jugular and despite the counter measures taken, the problem persists.
According to a United Nations report, for every Nollywood movie sold, there are nine pirated copies also sold.
Pat Utomi, renowned political economist and entrepreneur, recently stated that in view of these statistics, Nigeria could be losing well over $2 billion to piracy annually.
Utomi made this revelation during the second edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NEC).
He expressed that this piracy problem that has plagued the industry stems from low level of awareness of the masses on the issue of property rights, weak support of intellectual copyright and poor state of infrastructures.
Emphasizing that piracy is a distribution challenge that greatly threatens the growth and development of the industry, he urged entertainment industry professionals to strive to educate themselves about this issue, in order to actively contribute to finding lasting solutions to the problem.
In a special review titled 'Tackling Piracy in Nigeria, The Approaches,' seasoned entertainment consultant, Seun Apara said, "The problem with Nigeria is that we make laws that are not enforced. Tackling Piracy at this time is not about making laws but going after the pirates and all their links. Money is the only thing being altered in piracy, so death penalty shouldn’t be applied. Pirates should be made to pay large sums of repayment and immediate shutdown of all their activities. Automatic 10 years imprisonment, with no free pass for being underage, because it’s for the war on terror, zero tolerance is also advised. Security operatives, especially Nigerian police have lots to do in this task."
To tackle piracy, Apara said, "Public education campaigns are typically considered the first line in the defense against piracy. To help stop piracy of DVD movies, for example, Nigerian film makers have been putting a short commercial at the beginning of select movies equating buying a pirated copy of a DVD to shoplifting. Individual artists and groups too must also enlighten their constituency about the dangers of piracy to their careers. Grassroots organizations must also work to educate the public about intellectual property rights through online marketing campaigns."
He also brought the impact of technology into the equation noting that this had gained meaningful impact.
"Technology has also been a key component in helping to stop piracy. In advance countries, music companies have been experimenting with ways to put anti-copying software onto the CDs they sell. Software programs can be created to require authorization codes or online registration forms that serve to make piracy more difficult because they are only given with legal copies. For downloadable content, digital rights management systems limit the number of devices that can play a particular movie or song in order to stop people from sharing unauthorized copies. On a similar note, some sites are selling downloadable files with a digital fingerprint that makes it possible to trace pirated copies back to the original source. Unfortunately, resourceful hackers and people in the piracy industry continue to find ways to get around these measures.
He however highlighted the downside of following up on nipping the problem in the bud.
"Lawsuits may also seem like an obvious way to stop piracy, but legal action is typically a last resort. With the global nature of the Internet, it is time consuming and expensive to track down all the parties that would be involved in a lawsuit. Piracy laws also vary from country to country, making enforcement rather difficult."
Another devastating effect of piracy on the Nigerian movie industry, which renowned film maker, Tunde kelani will not forget in a hurry played out 4 years ago shortly before and after the release of his movie, 'Arugba.'
Shortly before the release of the movie, Kelani had said, “We are going to be pirated!” The cinematographer admitted that he'd been cornered by the pirates and the system. He made it clear that he had no choice but to release Arugba, which he eventually did after a two-year delay as his production company lacked the funds for his next film.
Arugba was officially released and in less than 10 days, pirates flooded the market with not just one pirated version of the new film.
Reacting to the release of the pirated version of the movie, Kelani released a statement which painted in graphic detail, the problems films makers have had to contend with over the years.
"It is with the greatest and darkest feeling of despair that I have to announce the massive piracy attack of our new film ‘Arugba’ released on homevideo barely a week ago. On our part, we complied with all the guidelines stipulated by all the government agencies and paid all dues but got no protection from the criminal activities of the pirates who are bent on pulling down our industry. As things stand, it is becoming impossible for me to continue my career as a filmmaker in my country Nigeria as it is no longer possible to recoup our investment or get the opportunity to exploit economically our copyright and repay our creditors.
“Unless the Federal Government of Nigeria rescues us from this economic menace, the growth and development of the nascent film industry in Nigeria will be stifled completely by this miasma of piracy, illegality and outright theft. The popular Nollywood industry is under great threat and may already be experiencing its death throes. While we have decided to write a letter of protest to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Attorney General of the Federation, The Federal Minister of Information and Communication, the Inspector General of Police and all the relevant government agencies, we can only appeal to the general public to ignore the pirated ones and buy our genuine movies.”
In Lagos, the Alaba International Market remains the biggest hub of pirated finished products from the Nigerian entertainment industry but of course, the tentacles have since grown as the days roll by.
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By: SAMOD BIOBAKU