Veteran TV presenter, Yomi Shodimu has taken the battle against piracy (theft of intellectual property) a notch higher.
In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Friday, April 17, 2015, the visibly agitated crusader bemoaned the lot of Nigerian entertainment industry, explaining how he intends to do the battle and more…
You are on a mission to fight piracy, can you please tell us what informed your action?
Piracy has been on for a very long time. The truth is that, I just got very angry about it a couple of days back. What exactly happened was this. I was driving along the road and I saw all these hawkers with the big budget movie, October I pirated videos. Because of my closeness with the producer, Kunle Afolayan, I put a call across to him and his tone of dejection told me the movie has been pirated. I knew the huge amount of money that went into the movie, the emotional commitment and artistic investment. I felt so sorry for him and I decided to take up the battle to reawaken the public towards this cankerworm that has eaten deep into the soul of the entertainment industry.
When exactly did you commence this initiative?
Just a couple of days back, and I have been passing information through television, radio and the social media. I am also looking for other legitimate means to spread the gospel of stopping piracy in Nigeria. This has been over the years, but I have not been able to fight it physically. Now, I am taking up the battle.
How far have you gone and how would you rate your success?
I’m yet to rate the success in terms of public reactions. I have been bombarded with solidarity messages. People have been telling me what do you think we can do about it? Some people have gone to town to assist in destroying some of those pirated copies.
Where and when have you raided?
My own little way has been in Lagos but people are also doing something in some other states. There are other plans which I would not want to disclose yet because I am not alone in it.
How do you trace the source of these pirated works?
I wouldn’t want to comment on that yet because work is going on and as part of our own strategy, I will like to appeal to the public not to buy the pirated movies. They are trying to reap where they did not sow.
What about reporting the case to the security agencies?
The case has been reported already and they are aware of it. Their reaction may not be what we expect but at a point we have learnt to ignore government and take some action that can solve the problem. If they had done what we expected, some of these pirates would have been brought to book. So, we cannot sit and fold our arms and wait indefinitely for government to do something.
Would you say Nigerian law enforcement agencies have failed since ordinary citizens now do their job?
I can only say we cannot replace the security agencies. They have their function and they are trained to guide and protect lives and property. We can only do something that can motivate the people.
We are talking about our livelihood and we can’t sit down and fold our hands watching them thrive at our detriment.
What should government do to check the operators?
The law is already there. Government should enforce the law because entertainment is a very big sector that employs thousands of Nigerians. The government has the resources to fight piracy. If an assignment is given to the government, I think they should execute it or take a bow rather than standing in between.
Who are other artistes in your team?
Many people have tried to stop piracy but they couldn’t. I am just with God and His grace. I will tackle piracy drastically.
Do you have a time frame for this advocacy?
There is no time frame for this kind of work. It is a continuous battle and we will do something to stop it. People cannot sit in the comfort of their houses and wait for others to sweat and put together resources and at the end they destroy it. It doesn’t work that way and it cannot continue.
From your investigation, can you recall some of the most pirated Nigerian movies?
Just any titled movie, it is pirated. It is as bad as that, because the bigger the work, the easier it is to be pirated.
Is your advocacy limited to movies, what about music?
I will not pretend to be all in all. I am not a superman. I intend getting others to join in the battle. There is no limit, I will just continue to fight the battle until it’s lost and won .
What is your take on the insinuation that a particular section of the country is responsible for piracy?
Piracy is not in a particular section of the county. As far as you are a pirate, you are an enemy of democracy and the economy of the nation is affected as well.
It is not a fight against a particular section of the country.
What should owners of the creative work do to protect their artistic effort?
Effort is being made. Producers go out there to secure loans, technical input, artistic input, location, and so many things and after everything, you expect them to sit back and protect it. It’s not easy. The movie, October I has not been distributed. It is in the cinema and it’s just rounding off the cinema runs. You need to check what the criminals are doing and how they have access to the movies. Investigations are going on and report will soon be made public.
How much do you estimate artistes might have lost so far to pirates?
They have lost billions of naira. For those who invested, it is also a loss. And the criminals are just there milking everybody to death.
What is the way forward?
The way forward is to fight piracy. It’s not only a fight by Yemi Shodimu, it is a fight by all Nigerians and I am happy people are reacting positively to this. So, let us wake up and do the right thing.