As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Day on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, stakeholders in the film industry took their campaign to Alaba International Market, the acclaimed hub of piracy activities in Africa.
Led by the Audio-Visual Rights Society of Nigeria (AVRS), a company approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) as a Collective Management Organization (CMO) for Cinematograph Films in Nigeria, the delegation which was received by the Chairman of Fancy and Furniture section of the market, Mr. Emeka Mozoba, include Chairman of AVRS, Mr. Bond Emeruwa, actress and Guest Speaker at the event, Hilda Dokubo, Chairman of Film and Video Producers/Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN), Emeka Aduah, Secretary of Yoruba Video Film Marketers Association of Nigeria (YVFMAN), Tunji Adetola, Aina Kushoro, Lilian Amah- Aluko, Fidelis Duker, Nobert Ajaegbu, Okey Ogunjiofor, Emma Isikaku and Paul Okoli among others.
Dokubo who talked tough at the event, urged the marketers to desist henceforth, from replicating the works of filmmakers without permission, saying it amounts to robbing the right owners of their source of livelihood, while it also hinders investors from partaking in the economic advancement of the creative sector.
“So if you ask me, what is the property that has brought us here today? In my hand is a CD; it is a property. That is because it belongs to somebody, it is someone’s investment. It is somebody’s life and wealth. It can lead to someone being alive or killed,” she said.
Continuing, Dokubo said, “To those who decide to make us poor; because when you steal from us, you are actually ripping us off. Which means you have kept away investors from this business; both locally and internationally.
“We are all looking for international partners and treaties, so for those who pirate our work, they will kill those treaties and investment. So you are keeping partners away from us.
“This market is big enough to accommodate all of us, if we all agree to work together. I will tell you how this stealing works; because all of you will say you do not pirate.
“When you buy a copy and go and duplicate and give it to the boys who push them around in wheel barrows for sale, you are a thief. You are killing people,” she declared.
Chairman of Fancy and Furniture section, Mr. Emeka Mozoba, who admitted that piracy activities exist in the market, promised “to work hand in hand with the government, NCC, AVRS and other anti-piracy regulatory bodies to fight piracy in Nigeria.”
Earlier, the AVRS boss emphasized on the theme of the event for 2017: ‘Innovation – Improving Lives’, noting that, for him, “the greatest innovation of recent times remains Nollywood. “A gentle fusion of technology and the African art of storytelling – making it possible for a simple campfire story to be seen and heard across nations – informing, educating, fostering unity, peace, love and most of all, entertaining.”
According to Emeruwa, filmmakers will soon have cause to smile, as their intellectual rights are being enforced for relevant returns.
“This is an exercise that we have been pursuing vigorously and we promise that soon, filmmakers will have cause to smile. We have engaged with hotels, broadcast organizations and other users of your works and the response has been very encouraging. We implore other users of cinematography works to ensure they are licensed as we are set to use all means within our power to enforce our rights. The lives of our filmmakers must be improved,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to speed up the process of implementation of the Copyright Levy (on Materials) order 2012 which he said was signed and left unimplemented since 2012 to the detriment of Nigeria’s creative economy.