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THE BIG RIP-OFF: HOW NOLLYWOOD FILMS ARE SHOWN ON NET FREE OF CHARGE

By Fred Iwenjora

While Nigeria movies and its stakeholders are enjoying a road show in London to celebrate its growth and escapades, strong indications are that this current celebration of Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry as the third largest and fastest growing movie industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood will soon be a thing of the past considering the latest discovery that a website operated by a certain Devace Nigeria, an arm of Devace Inc. USA and indeed several other websites show the latest Nollywood films free of charge even before their release in Nigeria to those who want to watch them.

All you need to get into any film of your choice is just a click away. And it is on a full TV window which could be dubbed by any one who cares.

When attention was called to the new development, it was very difficult to believe that such a thing exists now that movie makers of Nigerian stock are seeking alternative ways of turning around the fortunes of the industry especially in the area of quality production and distribution.

Dealers on Nigerian films in Europe started seeing their business fall as latest consignments of their movies remain stuck in their shops"

Dupe Mojisola Ajudua is the Managing Director of Elegance Afro Beauty World and video shop based in Heidelberg, Germany where she also runs the business of marketing Nigerian films.

According to her, the shop is filled to the brim by those who also want to enjoy the show but now the story is different. "Almost 1000 visitors come into my shop asking for Nigerian movies but the number started dwindling and that was when I smelt a rat.

The number of movies I bought from my suppliers in Nigeria and elsewhere reduced drastically. When I stumbled upon the site I was shocked to the marrows. I would wish that Nigerian government does something drastic about this before their only means of cultural imperialism dies an unnatural death."

Omo Otas Goddy, the Managing Director of Classic Boutique, Essen is not left out in the barrage of fire trailing this website. According to him the existence of this website is "a let-down on AMP". He wondered why the guild leadership should fold their arms and watch things go bad like that with others reaping the fruits of their labour.

Says the man whom many prefer to call Baba Gulf " We all decided that we should buy from the right source rather than pirate the movies because it would never pay Nigerian movie makers and see what these people have done.

The federal Government should do some thing fast to stem this rip off. I call upon the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, National Orientation Agency, Nigerian Film Corporation, The National Film and Video Censors Board and of course the EFCC to set up an investigation to stop this nonsense."

For Sidney Ononogbu of U Class Video shop in Mannheim, Germany, the story is same as he complains that the number of VCDs and DVDs of Nigerian movies have so much reduced.

Isaac Izoya, script writer, actor, producer, show promoter and distributor of African movies all over Europe says"this website is Nollywood cemetery and nothing more than that. The day I saw this website, I wept openly because it is the only way of killing and burying Nollywood.

Other websites I have seen only show you trailers of the movies which you now order if you so wish. But this one is what I cannot understand. You just click and you are watching any Nigerian movie you so desire even before it is released. If it is released some body tells you ooh it is old film I have watched it long ago. I have notified Zeb Ejiro and Madu Chikwendu and other media outlets in Nigeria.

I also notified Paul Obezele, the new President of Association of Movie Producers, AMP. None of these people have replied to say they saw what I sent them via email and SMS. I foresee a free fall of Nollywood as all the African video shops in Europe are folding up on a daily basis.

Over hundred of them I know have closed down. Several of them that receive films from me now say no and if nothing is done and urgently too, the end of Nollywood is knocking at the door because it is easier in Europe to connect to the internet than obtaining a new GSM line in Nigeria so every one is watching all Nigerian movies free of charge.

We plead for the Nigerian EFCC to wade into these so as to protect our cultural heritage. Sunday Omobude of Easy World, Amsterdam, Holland, a major distributor of Nollywood movies has been crying over the major rip-off and explains that he used to order for over 8,000 copies of latest movies from Nigeria for distribution all over Europe every week.

"Now I can only take 1,500 because very few shops buy from me. They all say that the market has so much dropped. Even the ones I received from Lagos are still dumped in my stores."

Ramsey Nuoah who just returned to Nigeria after a successful tour of Europe courtesy of Ehizoya Golden Entertainment also describes the website as "a big rip-off of Nollywood"

Home Video People investigation exposes the fact that it may be in a bid to outsell each other and of course discover new marketing out lets in an industry that lacks better organisation for production and distribution that Nollywood marketers make these films available to the organizers of the website who make millions of Naira, dollars and Euro in the process because any click on the Google advert links on the pages yield so much for the hosts or organizers of the website.

It is also gathered that the site which is hosted by Naijahost was developed by "Devace Nigeria, a branch of Devace Inc, USA to provide useful information about Nigeria and create a community where Nigerians can interact..

Their brief introduction on the internet say "Today, there are more than 30,000 members using the OnlineNigeria.com portal and services in 45 different countries around the world. Our members have consistently rated our portal and services 5 stars in independent surveys.

Monthly, OnlineNigeria.com receives more than 700,000 visitors….. They also say that it was "established in 1998 to give a face (pictures) on everything Nigeria. We have since grown into other aspects of information exchange"
The questions begging for answers are numerous. Who gives the organizers the films to show on the web?

Where are they based? (there are unconfirmed reports that they are based in Holland. Some other people have also said they are in Port Harcourt Nigeria). Are these people Nigerians? If they are Nigerians, are they happy destroying their own industry? How many Americans can do this to other Hollywood films?

There is a strong belief that the EFCC can trace these people easily if they want to. Would they have the willingness to do this? The earlier they do something, the better for Nigeria.