By Tony Nwanne
The Leader of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has raised the hope of many stakeholders in entertainment industry on piracy, adding that curtailing piracy will boost the economy.
He made this statement while speaking to stakeholders from the entertainment and creative arts industry recently in Abuja.
According to him “The impunity is obvious when you see pirates selling their illegal products in public . We would look at the laws so as to criminalize buying and selling pirated films to keep even the buyers in check and provide stiffer punishment for owners of buildings used for this illicit act. It takes two people to commit the offense if there is no willing buyer the illicit business won’t thrive”
“If we can address counterfeit money, drugs and goods, we will look into our intellectual property laws and possibly collaboration with state governments is necessary, while the federal government deals with issue of copyright the states as well can deal with censorship of films sold within their jurisdiction.
We would amend relevant laws to empower the Inspector General of Police and his men in fighting piracy. The House is aware that the entertainment industry is vital to the economic diversification policy of this government and the industry can be assured of the support of the legislature.”
Leader of the delegation and Chairman, Optical Disc Replicators of Nigeria, Cyprian Orakpo, had earlier lamented the rising case of piracy in the country and its negative impact on the entertainment industry.
He said: “We want the National Assembly to join in curtailing piracy and chase piracy away, with the National Assembly we can achieve 80% success in fight against piracy, it disturbing that the energy of film makers is sold out for peanut and interestingly some elites in the country spend a lot of Millions of Naira to invest in production of pirated movies”, Orakpo said.
“There was a time President Buhari made a pronouncement that his government will fight piracy and suddenly immediately after that pronouncement, original copies started selling faster and the Pirates left the market but thereafter the pirates went back to business unhindered, we want the government to be more proactive because the country itself is losing lots of revenue.
“Movie makers borrowed up to 1billion Naira from government through the Bank of Industry and could not meet up with the repayment due to piracy. Whilst the economy of the country is in need of help, piracy thrives at Alaba Market in Lagos. Pirates operate in buildings and shops closed during business hours of the day and only opened to business at night.”
“The investors in piracy provide protection fund of up to 14million Naira monthly to some gullible market leaders to get soft landing, even the regulator Nigeria Copyright Commission went to Alaba market to fight pirates but their officials were beaten and the vehicle burnt by pirates who even promised to replace the burnt vehicle on the condition that they would never return to Alaba again, this is worrisome in a country where there are laws”, Orakpo alleged.
Members of the delegation included Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Tourism and Film Maker, Desmond Elliot; Foremost Actor, Segun Arinze; Film Maker, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen; National President, Motion Picture Distributors, Igwe Gabosky.