Pirates hijack Nigerian movies in Britain and America
Apparently worried by activities of pirates who continue to feed fat on the sweat of Nigerian movie producers especially in Europe, one of the nation's movie producers, Chief Sunny Collins Nwatu, has resolved to fight back.
Chief Nwatu who is managing director of Great Movies Industries Limited said that his personal investigation revealed that over 200,000 copies of most of Nigeria movies are sold by pirates, in America and London.
As a result of this, many producers in Nigeria are merely working for unknown persons to eat, and that having waited so long for government and relevant agencies to take serious actions against pirates, Nwatu said he has decided to carry on the fight himself.
According to him, he has hired one Mr.Dayo, an American Attorney, to prosecute those that pirate his works and those of other Nigerian producers abroad.
Movie industry in Nigeria
The industry is growing successfully and this is quite encouraging, except that video club operators are now eating up the industry by indiscriminately renting our movies out without any royalties or financial reward to us. Before the advertisements of video renting, Nigeria preferred buying the films. But now, it is renting all the way and everywhere, this has put little or nothing in our pockets or into the industry.
Sometimes, the rental copies turn out to be pirated copies and this is gradually and steadily killing the industry. Unfortunately, the whole nation would be affected if the industry goes down. The movie industry is presently the largest employer of labour after government. It provides jobs directly and indirectly to more than five million Nigerians today, ranging from the driver, make-up artiste, floor manager, script writer, editor to the producer. It is very large and it contnues to expand by the day.
I blame Video Censors Board which grants operational licenses to rental clubs.
These clubs hang unto the license to invade our works; we need to draw the board to the limit of their business and operations.
However, we have concluded arrangements with South African-based firm, Gold Link Entertainment Company to take over the issue on our behalf. It will now deal with the video clubs on our behalf, so as to protect our copy rights and financial interests.
Quality of movies
The quality of our movies is fine and high. We producers meet regularly, we organise workshops and seminars, there is also a producers' forum, where we exchange views, assess performances with the aim of improving on our jobs.
If you have watched my latest work World Apart, you will see the effect of all that. That film is already busting the charts and it featured great men like Prof.Laz Ekwueme, Kenneth Okonkwo and others. I also intend to start shooting with Celluloid soon.We presently use Divicam, but Celluloid pictures present better and clearer qualities and can store and maintain quality for years.
We started shooting movies years back with super VHS, later, we used Eumatic cameras and ended up with Divicam. So very soon we will move over to celluloid cameras which however are very expensive. But for us, our aim is to achieve high quality production and output.
The activities of pirates in Europe, especially London, America and Canada have affected the Nigerian Movie industry so much that our marketing potentials as well as the sales have dropped sharply. It has so much dropped that the usual demand for Nigerian movies over there have suddenly become saturated. The nefarious business is not done by the Oyinbos or foreigners. The culprits are Nigerians who travel there, pick a copy of each movie, mass produce them overnight and sell to people. This at the expense of we movie producers at home.
Before the piracy got to the present crisis stage, we used to sell more than 10,000 to 20,000 copies in America and Europe, but today,a movie hardly sells up to 100 copies. In fact, the investigation carried out revealed that the pirates sold more than 200,000 copies of each of our movies in America and Britain.
From the records, we are losing a lot. Our loss is at the rate of five dollars per copy. In fact, we are loosing millions to them.
How pirates operate
One day, I browsed the internet only to discover that all my films are on the internet already. They have reproduced them in DVD. In fact all my works, about 150 titles are there, except the ones that I have not released.
Details about these people are already documented. I have also been to the areas and the Asian cities where my movies and those of my colleagues are pirated. I saw things myself, where and how they have been doing it.
They always operate a triangular-axis trade; they would come to Nigeria, pick a copy of all moving and latest releases, then travel to Singapore or any other city in Asia and mass produce them without authorisation from the owners to the copyright. Thereafter, they would ship them to America and Europe and to any other world cities where Nigerian movies enjoy acceptability and audience for quick and easy sale.
Because of the cheap production and labour cost in Asia, especially Singapore, these flicks are quickly pirated there. In the course of my investigations, I spoke, and even negotiated deals with them when I travelled. They spoke freely with me without knowing my true identity and through that I was able to get all the required details. It is mind blowing.
Prosecuting the pirates
I have waited enough for intervention of the government or a joint umbrella of movie producers to fight the war but all to no avail. I have therefore hired a team of America based lawyers to help me prosecute all those known to have been duplicating and pirating my works illegally.
I do not want to look at the financial implications because I know it would cost a fortune but at the end of the day, the entire industry will smile.
The system all over the world is that when you get into any country where you plan to prosecute those pirating your works, you would first of all hire a lawyer and let him know your mission. In America, they protect copyrights and that's why lawyers there would take up the case immediately.
This is not like here Nigeria where a typical case can last for years, there in a couple of weeks, the result would be out. Based on this, I have engaged an attorney who has already started discussing and assembling the documents with me. His name is Mr. Dayo. The embassies and governments are involved now because the perpetrators are Nigerians.
Apart from the legal action, I have equally opened a local office and sales distribution outlet in London and America. With that, I will satisfy the audience directly and there will be no room for the pirates.
I intend to use this strategy to help other producers in Africa who may want to make us their overseas agent.