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The Perils of Piracy & Nollywood is No Exception

Updated on August 5, 2011

There aren’t too many households on the planet where someone hasn’t purchased at least one bootleg item. Unless money is no object for you, then you wouldn’t understand. Whether your name is Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein or Sony, or anybody else with a product, you can ask them, have they been pirated? I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised by the answer because, if their product is available and especially expensive, yes they’ve been bootlegged.

It really doesn’t matter where you are in the world; pirates are active and swindle millions of inventors of their rightful profits, because they choose to make their livings on duplicating expensive items or products, which are in high demand. Pirates are formed when manufacturers marketed their goods to those who can’t afford it, and in some ways, makes their products a slap in the face of the poor, so they too are pirated. The manufacturers don’t realize they are partially responsible for the pirate’s role and have to be held accountable for its part as well. Unfortunately, the bootlegger meets the demand for those seeking an affordable price for an non-affordable product, but it is done illegally and unethically.

Nevertheless, it is the pirate who pays the ultimate price when caught, prosecuted and imprisoned for years, simply because he was trying to “survive.” This is a no win situation for either party. The manufacturers do lose profits, and the pirate, we agree he is a thief, a criminal, and a crook, but in long run doesn’t win either. But we have to keep a few things in mind. Usually they become involved because it is a way of survival, and they can make quick money and take care of their families, and because every new product creates a new opportunity. But even though the establishment removes and punishes the pirate, we see this only as a temporary fix. There will be another pirate that will come along and take over where the other pirate left off, and the only winner in this scenario is the criminal justice system. They make their residual income off of these people.

However, Music and DVD sales seem to suffer the most because of pirates. It is probably because duplicating these products, are the easiest to reproduce. Many people can’t afford $15-30.00 for one DVD or CD, and everybody knows the pirate will charge you anywhere from $4-10.00 for that same product. But when we examine the outrageous price for an evening out at the movies, a not so clear copy of a B-rated movie for $5.00 seems worth it, and that’s why there are millions who do it.

Fortunately, here in the United States the music industry has the RIAA, the Recoding Industry Association of America that is bootleg watchdog group, which is made up of people who seek out vendors who sell music or movies. They tend to act like a customer, photograph and purchase an item. Then goes to the local police department and file a complaint. And the next thing you know, the vendor is often arrested and jailed, the goods confiscated and destroyed, and the RIAA person disappears into the night.

Even though this industry has no control of any music recorded before 1973, they cannot stop anyone from selling music recorded prior to these years. But they will seek out anyone who is selling Michael Jackson, Mark Anthony and anything else that sells millions at a time. The music companies they represent, want their royalties by all means necessary, and will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t overlook a dime that belongs to them.

Regrettable for these companies, people don’t give a damn about them losing a few dollars. The public already feels taken advantage of, so to buy a movie off the street, one often feels some sort of vindication, a thumbs up for the consumer.

Now, looking at the grand scheme of things, who do you think would generate a quicker demand for their goods with ordinary people? I assure you it isn’t the big chain mega stores, which often seem to have a surplus of movies and CD’s on the racks by the checkout counter, but in reality, it is the pirate. And he could be the local kid down the block with a computer and he goes undetected.

Well, Nollywood is no different. In fact, this is a problem for their industry simply because there are so many who seek their movies, and their network is too small to keep control on everyone who sells their films, so funds and revenues at times are lost. Unfortunately, in some ways Nollywood contributes to their own problem merely because of this simple mistake.

Nollywood can release anywhere between 10 and 35 movies within a 3 week period, and that can be three to ten times a year. They flood the market with movies everyone has waited months to be released, and suddenly, they’re all available at the same time. So what happens is, the original movie can run the vendor between $2-4:00 and he can sell the entire movie anywhere for $5-10 for the complete story. (African movies come in parts. It is their marketing tool, and it works.) But a pirated copy for the entire story can run you about $2-5 each.

Consequently, because the vendor is unable to afford many copies of all of the new releases, they borrow and copy those movies from other vendors that couldn’t afford to buy the ones they have either, so they trade and burn each other’s copies, so that all of them have the new releases available for sale.

But no one realizes, often the last person who benefits off of any sales, are the artists. They are the last ones on the totem pole, and when a movie or a CD is sold and no royalties given, it is the artist, the designer, and the musician who gets stepped on and left empty handed, while the “company” continues to collects what little royalties and profits they can generate.

However, there is a very simple solution to this problem. If any manufacturers, artist, movie house, or product maker doesn’t want their products bootlegged, pirated, copied or reproduced, they need to find out how much their items are selling on the “black-market” and then make their original goods that price. People will pay full price for the original goods because they can now afford it. But it will also create a way for the pirates to become legitimate vendors or get out of the business, and at the same time make the bootleggers become far less in demand. Then the new question would be, why wouldn’t anyone want to pay a fair price for an original product, than a bootleg or pirated anything if it is affordable?

Nollywood has dealt with it’s fair share, and they have taken the time out now to have all their movies copyrighted here in the United States, and have all their films subjected to the fullest protection of the law. They address piracy at the beginning of every film, and you cannot escape their message. But unless, we as consumers go out of our way to save up and buy original products, we are doing just as much stealing as the pirates, and can’t really talk about the Chinese.


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