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Pirates Wreak Havoc in Alaba Int’l Market

By Hilary okeke

Alaba International Market, major centre for electronics and electrical products in West Africa is sopping with fake digital video discs (DVDs) and compact discs (CDs) calling for measures to stem this crescent of counterfeits.

A quick look at the activities at the market shows a sea of pirated materials and there is no solution in sight as anti-piracy organizations seem to have turned a blind eye.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek's special investigations revealed a troubling and uncontrolled trade in fake discs brought in from Far East Asia.

The growing piracy deprives copyright owners of the revenue they have rightly earned and government, of the taxes that can be derived from that revenue reinvested in the economy

The market is believed to be worth over N25 billion annually and accounts for over 80 per cent of pirated international music DVDs and CDs.

The bootlegs that operate openly, churning out millions of fake CDs everyday have become every copyright owner's nightmare.

Fake CDs are relatively easy to spot because of typographical errors that appear on the packaging but affordability of the counterfeits is a major attraction.

Retail price of pirated DVDs goes as low as N150 compared to about N2000 for the original; while pirated CDs go for N90 compared to over N1000 for the original ones.

Pirated DVDs or CDs do not last at all. The first time they are played, they seem good but subsequent times, they show signs of cracking and in most cases, would not play at all.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek revealed that that most traders at Alaba International market there have machines for burning CDs and DVDs at specific "hideouts" around the market.

They hardly import already-made copies from China these days because of delay, cost and risk of interception by operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service.

Funny enough, some of the shops selling original products revealed the disparity in patronage and have had to introduce sections for pirated products while reserving original ones for special orders.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that anti-piracy groups only conduct raid sessions to showoff once or twice a year, and that no one really gets arrested or prosecuted.

As a dealer, you only need to go "settle" them in cash - a sure ticket to conduct his illegal business unhindered.

Apart from creative industry which has been on the receiving end, book publishing has also been greatly affected as many authors have suffered huge losses with the bookstands awash with fake copies of their works.

Piracy in Nigeria is in fact feared to have become a highly organized crime and a huge industry involving both locals and foreigners that control the bulk of both production and distribution channels of copyright works.