In Nollywood, Financiers, Marketers and Pirates Are Partners in Crime - Investigation
It is here, in the belly of the beast, that I conducted a study of the informal networks of movie pirates. There are two categories of pirates, often working together.
First are registered retailers who displayed original (white face) copies of films for sale, but conceal the green face (pirated) copies in their shops. They claimed to be retailers of original Nigerian films, but use the original copies purchased legally to mass-produce “pirated” copies for sale to increase profit.
The second category comprised of “associates”. Officially they are appointed by the copyright owners to distribute their films. But owing to their strategic position in the distribution chain, they reportedly make secret business deals with dubbing companies. These companies dub copies without obtaining legal permission from the copyright owners.
Insider connections and clandestine networks
The involvement of these various stakeholders in the film industry makes fighting piracy a herculean task. In the market where I conducted my research, the presence of anti-piracy groups was no deterrent for the pirates. They still carried out their business by working with associates.
These so-called associates work with the copyright owners or with the dubbing companies contracted by the copyright owner to produce official DVDs. They are often salesgirls of marketers or executive producers.
This means that associates have access to original copies of new films before they are released. They sell these to the pirate-retailers, often masquerading as legitimate retailers. The pirates can therefore ensure early pirate production of original copies. They thereby hijack the market from copyright owners and make more money at their expense.
Pirated copies can flood the market on the same day the copyrighted films are released into the market or the day after.
Although it is more expensive to buy from their associates, pirates are often willing to pay the extra in order to guarantee more profit.
In Nollywood, the marketing bosses are often in on the scam. These dodgy bosses are sometimes major financiers of films in the Nigerian film industry. The big money that they possess and the “underground structure” they maintain make them indispensable to copyright owners and in the marketing of films.
They wield a lot of power and use this power to gain total control of the market. By working with pirates to illegally distribute the very films which they finance, they are able to secure income from both legal and illegal streams.
Click here to read the complete investigative report.
The Conversation Africa.
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