Officials of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) say the agency has renewed its efforts to battle pirates of creative works across the country.
Operatives of the commission recently raided some markets in Lagos. Several suspected pirates were arrested in markets around Oshodi, Mushin and Lagos Island.
Director and zonal manager of the commission in Lagos, Obi Ezeilo, said the NCC has been receiving petitions from movie marketers and producers on the illegal activities of pirates that reproduce and sell creative works.
He said the organisation decided to take the bold step, as it became obvious that money invested in many of the intellectual works was going down the drain, while perpetrators of the illegal business were making so much money and smiling to the bank.
He said the commission had earlier engaged all the stakeholders in the film industry, including rights owners, in discussions on the need to collaborate and stop the criminal activities of pirates.
He added that though the film industry was rapidly growing, it was regrettable that investors in the industry were subjected to hardship by the activities of pirates.
“All over the world, people invest and appreciate all intellectual works, either in movies or in music. However, there is a strong legislation against offenders, including, producers and sellers of pirated works. That is why it is easier for artistes abroad to make fortunes from their creative works. But in Nigeria, piracy is a big issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Ezeilo urged all stakeholders, including film producers, marketers, artistes and investors, to unite in fighting the scourge. He explained that a formidable and united front was key to fighting the menace.
Meanwhile, president of the Video/Film Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Emeka Aduah, said the recent arrests were made in collaboration with top officials of the commission, the police and other stakeholders in the film industry.
He said those arrested were caught in the act, displaying and selling pirated copies of videos at Oshodi, Mushin and Idumota markets and the suspects would face the wrath of the law, to serve as a deterrent to others.
“As far as we are concerned, we mean business this time around, and I can assure you that we are winning the war against piracy. The menace of piracy is biting hard on us. We cannot continue to fold our arms and remain silent, as if nothing is going on. That is why we are now joining hands with the NCC, the security agencies and other stakeholders to get rid of this monster that daily kills the entertainment industry,” he said.
Vice president of the Yoruba Video and Film Marketers Association of Nigeria, (YOVIFPMAN), Tunji Ojetola, in his remarks, said it was not the first time the association would raid and arrest pirates and their accomplices, but the latest move was taking the bull by the horns in a bid to stamp out piracy.
“For the pirates, it is no longer business as usual. We are poised to stop the menace once and for all. That is why we came out in large numbers to make the arrest and stop the criminal act,” he said.
According to Ojetola, the effort would pay off, even as that those arrested have been making confessional statements that would lead to further arrests.