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By Adekunle Adekoya
THE movie and music industry in our country is a unique one that I find difficult to understand with the passing of each day. To borrow a cliche, it is one industry where the monkey works and the baboon makes away with the proceeds of the monkey’s work, leaving the monkey high and dry, left only to scrape from the peelings of the banana discarded after the baboon has had its fill.
Of course, I am talking about how piracy has redefined the shape and structure of the industry. Our people are very clever; some of us invest in high-tech equipment for one purpose only; to take the icing off the cake of others. Musicians and songwriters sit down, and after labouring on their compositions, go to the studio and come out with albums.
Ditto for those in movies; they struggle to produce a movie which they hope to earn good returns from, but alas, pirates snatch the thing away and make all the money. Though the artistes and industry regulators seem to be trying their best, it is still not good enough. At one level, it can be understood if the global community discerns that we are merely ONLY hurting ourselves, but it is a different thing altogether if it is seen that it is in our character not only to hurt ourselves but others as well.
I am sure not a few of us must have noticed a weird development in the movie sub-sector of the entertainment industry.
The pirates have upped the ante: they now take foreign movies and voice them over in local languages. So at major bus-stops in our towns and cities, it has become a common sight to see people clustered around a TV set mounted by an itinerant audio/video CD seller, enjoying a movie in which names like Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others are starring, with the lines (audio) rendered in Yoruba!
It is not sub-titling, in which a movie whose audio lines are, for example, in Mandarin or Malaysian are sub-titled in English to enable non-Mandarin speakers follow the dialogue. Even our local movie-makers do this; it is standard practice. Movies made in Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa languages are sub-titled in English for the benefit of the global audience. In the ones I am talking about, first the movie being shown is a pirated copy of the original, and the piracy is compounded by voicing over the original audio in one of our local languages!
How much worse can we get? To what level are we taking piracy in this country?
I am sure we all want a good country. No Nigerian that has ever traveled abroad fails to be impressed by the orderliness with which people in other countries conduct their affairs, as well as the allure of their clean environment. They did not do magic; they simply obey laws. The argument is that discipline is a pre-condition for law and order, itself a situation whereby each and everyone of us willingly, without compulsion or coercion, obey the laws of the land. If the majority of us willingly abide by our laws, it will be easy pickings for the Police to track the errant few who choose to operate outside the law.
The way things are now, it is nearly impossible for the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the self-preserving activities of music and movies producers to check piracy and pirates. It has got to a level where the security agencies have to take more than a passing interest in piracy; it must be seen as a major security breach at par with crude theft, and treated as such. Indeed, it is a major economic crime, and the EFCC must take interest.