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‘Don’t give up on the battle against piracy, it is a battle you can win’ – Fashola

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…As Governor pledges to continue supporting creative artistes, receives entertainment industry collective members on peaceful protest march against piracy

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Monday received members of the Entertainment Industry Collective on a peaceful protest march against piracy, urging them not to give up because it is a battle they would win through the adoption of a multi-pronged approach to tackle the menace.

The Governor who spoke at the Car Park of Lagos House, Ikeja, while addressing the practitioners who included actors, actresses, musicians, authors, playwrights and movie producers, added that everybody must join the struggle and promised to support the worthy efforts of the operatives in the creative industry.

He saluted the decision of the operators of the entertainment industry to stand up because it is an industry that did not get government support to start as it was a self driven industry. “So everybody must be involved. It is not just filmmakers, book writers must also join you because there are books too that are on the streets that should not be on the streets. The musicians must join as it involves everybody that lives on his intellectual gift”, he added.

Governor Fashola gave a commitment that for as long as it takes to get the issues right in the industry, he would always render support to the practitioners, reiterating that piracy is not a local but a global challenge.

“And for whatever it is worth let me say to you today that for as long as it takes to get this right, I would be on your side. Let me also be clear that stealing of intellectual property that we call piracy is not a local problem but a global problem”.

“And no nation has successfully overcome it but they have managed to put them under significant control by some of the measures that you have alluded to and it is those measures that we must resort to in very full quantum”, he stressed.

He stated that the first thing that everyone should agree to is the need for law enforcement, stressing that once there is a law no matter how weakly crafted that law is, it is a law and that if there is law enforcement, a message would be sent that if anyone commits the crime, he would pay the price irrespective of how weak it is.

According to Fashola, efforts should also be made to use technology to overcome a problem that technology has brought about, explaining that in the days gone by when films were being distributed with VHS tapes, it was more difficult to mass produce as it has become now with the DVD.

“We have been working as a government trying to see how we can help

you create either application or software that makes duplication difficult if not impossible and there are some things that have come that we are still working about”.

“You must also seek local knowledge because there are a lot of people I know that are developing applications locally. They would probably have the capacity to develop home grown solutions to this unique problem that you face, having a better understanding of the terrain”, he explained.

He also suggested the investing in community cinemas, stating that the State Government has worked with some of the operators in the entertainment industry and have discovered that through community cinemas they can beat the pirates to the game.

Governor Fashola said he once travelled with Mr Tunde Kelani and Kunle Afolayan to India to understudy the film industry and they found out that apart from their laws, the films make its money through the multiple timing belts over one weekend of Friday to Sunday because the country has close to one million cinema houses.

He reiterated that while the operators in the entertainment industry cannot solely build cinemas just as government also cannot singlehandedly build cinemas, the administration has tried a few models and is still working on some trying to create standard community cinemas which can also be used for employment.

He added that in such circumstance, films can be marketed and distributed with money being collected from gate takings immediately while members of the local community can also benefit by selling
snacks such as popcorn and frying akara (Beans cake).

He also said Nigerians must not leave the business of legislation to law makers alone and suggested the constitution of a committee of the stakeholders to sit down with him to begin the formulation of the
draft of what they all think is a suitable legislation that can be presented to the new National Assembly when it is inaugurated.

“From there, it can become a serious national issue, a national agenda in terms of what we have learnt from India and what we have learnt from other jurisdictions. I think it is not necessary to take life for
property but to make the crime uneconomical to do and at the moment it certainly has its rewards, but by legislation you can make it uneconomical and not necessarily take life. The death penalty option
on whether we should take life or not is a debate that is still going on. It really has not solved any problem”, he said.

He urged the operators not to give up because if they give up, the next generation would suffer, adding that if the present generation does not profit, it must be to their credit that they laid a more
solid foundation for the next generation and they would forever be remembered for it.

“Keep the issue on the front burner, get every help that you can and every way you think I can help do not hesitate to call me even if it means calling the Police also about whatever enforcement we will do.

We should also sensitize everybody who buy this pirated items that they are impoverishing others and creating unemployment.  Your cause is worthy and just but we would need the whole community, everybody must now say they won’t buy pirated work”, he added.

Speaking earlier, renowned filmmaker, Mr Tunde Kelani said the various practitioners in the arts and entertainment industry decided to embark on the protest march because of a dangerous development within the film industry. He stated that films that are still in the cinema houses and not yet released for home view are now being pirated and sold in the open market without any fear by criminals who profit from the sweat of others.

He said the time has come for Nigeria to also strengthen punishment for piracy like similar ones available for major crimes like armed robbery, drug trafficking and financial crimes, calling for a law banning sales of video Compact discs in the open market.

Also addressing the gathering, Mr. Gab Okoye a.k.a Igwe Gabosky  said a frightening dimension has been added to the activities as the discs of major film productions that have not been released for home view are now being sold on the open market.

He said all the money borrowed by the film producers cannot be recouped due to the activities of the pirates and that efforts have been made by the stakeholders to visit Alaba market but that when they
got there, the law enforcement agents that went with the stakeholders had bitter stories to tell.

According to him, the major perpetrators have been identified and their location even identified but they do not have the legal power to go after them, adding that those who were even arrested and prosecuted
over six years for piracy were given very light punishments that were not commensurate with the offences committed.

Another prominent filmmaker, Mr Tunji Bamishigbin who also spoke said the Nollywood and film industry have contributed immensely to the Nigerian economy without any government assistance.

He said the gains made by the industry stand the risk of being rubbished by the activities of pirates who want to send many out of their jobs with their unwholesome practice and appealed to the State Governor to put the issue of how to assist the industry in tackling piracy into his handover notes to ensure continuity.

The Governor was joined by some members of the Executive Council including the Commissioners for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Town Planner Toyin Ayinde, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Raji and Special Adviser on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello in receiving the operatives in the creative industry that also had veterans like Chief Adebayo Salami and Prince Jide Kosoko in their train.




MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2015.

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