Prominent Nollywood actors on Monday marched on the streets of Lagos to protest increasing rate of piracy in the movie industry.
The train, which consisted of actors and filmmakers, later stopped at the Ikeja office of the state Governor, Babatunde Fashola.
The group said piracy had frustrated their efforts and impoverished professionals in the industry.
The protesters displayed placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Save our business from piracy,’ ‘Piracy is affecting our growth’, ‘Do not patronise pirates’, among others.
Among the protesting actors were Bayo Salami, Jide Kosoko, Kunle Afolayan and Iyabo Ojo.
The coordinator of the protest, Mr. Tunde Kelani, said, “Lagos is the hub of the entertainment industry in the country. The centre of piracy activity is the Alaba International Market in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos.
“It is disheartening for investors to see their work pirated and sold on the streets of Lagos without anyone to stop it.
“We want the Federal Government to elevate piracy to the class of armed robbery, financial crimes and others, and promulgate laws that will end sales of pirated works.
“Previously, those involved in piracy wait for the release of films before they pirate them. But the new trend is that while the films are still in the cinema, and not officially released by the producer, they are pirated and sold openly on the streets of Lagos.”
A Nollywood producer, Mr. Gabriel Okoye, said, “We have located the dens of these pirates. We have identified those involved, but we don’t have the legal backing.
“And those that we caught and prosecuted were given three months imprisonment or option of N10, 000 fine. That is the law of our country.
“In India, the price for piracy is death penalty. In the United Kingdom, they have the anti-piracy squad that clamp down on anywhere they find pirates. In America, anyone found guilty of piracy is in for 15 years imprisonment.”
The Governor, Fashola, said the stealing of intellectual property was not peculiar to Nigeria.
While noting that other countries had not totally overcome it, he added that they had put it under control through different measures.
He said, “It is those measures that we must adopt. As long as it takes, I will be on your side until this war is won.
“There is a need for law enforcement because there is a law that prohibits piracy. If there is law enforcement, we can begin to send messages that if anyone violates the law, he must face the full weight of the law.
“Also, it will require multiplicity of actions; technology is part of the problem. We will seek to use technology to solve the problem that technology has created.
“We will ensure that we produce software that will make piracy impossible.”