Despite the giant strides of the Nigerian movie industry, piracy remains a clog in the wheel, impeding the economic fortunes of the industry in general and the actors’ earnings in particular.
From World Bank website, it is estimated that for every legitimate copy sold, nine pirated copies are also sold. This means little or no earning to the filmmakers and none to the government. If in doubt, check Lagos traffic everyday, you see hawkers waving pirated movies at commuters, who purchase these intellectual property at ridiculously low prices. Commuters, who are ignorant of the negative impact of piracy, keep on patronising the pirates.
On May 14, 2019, Nigerian actress, Omoni Oboli, raised the alarm over piracy in Nigeria. The actress confronted a man who was hawking the movie, Big Daddy in the traffic jam. Later, she lamented in a video, “Help!!! Piracy is killing us! Don’t patronise them pls!”
But the hawker said that he was just a trader, claiming to know nothing about piracy.
Also, Nollywood actor, Mike Ezuruonye, decided to confront merchants of pirated Nollywood movies. He shared a clip on Instagram where he caught one of the hawkers who tried to sell pirated copies of Nigerian movies to him. He seized them and threatened to arrest the hawker for illegal sale of intellectual property.
Despite the success of Nollywood, the incomes of the producers and actors remain abysmally low. The estimated cost of production for each of the popular and high-grossing movies is between a paltry $10,000 and $300,000. Worse still, illegal downloads and bootleg digital versatile discs have continued to deal a heavy blow to the revenue of Nollywood.
Confronting these challenges plaguing the industry, the backbone of cartels in different parts of the country needs to be broken. There is great need to take advantage of existing legal instruments that criminalise piracy and related crimes through diligent and sustained enforcement by the Federal Government. Those liable should not only be arrested, but should also be made to face the punishment they deserve, if found guilty. This will serve as a deterrent to potential pirates.
The Federal Government and the industry urgently need to collaborate, like what obtains in other countries, to nip the problem of piracy in the bud.
However, even amid piracy, resilient professionals are breaking boundaries with movies like Chief Daddy, King of Boys, Wedding Party and Merry Men.