Fight At Piracy Is Beyond Hunger Strike

Posted: August 24, 2009 in Blog party, True talk, What's going on...

Dro Ameh

On August 25, a bundle of Nigerian musicians will be going on a hunger strike, if they stay true to their words. I got a press release from Efe Omorgbe a week ago informing of this  decision, reached at a world press conference held in July: Hunger Strike to begin from the 25th of August and declaration of September 1st as ‘No Music Day’.

“Before the strike, there will be an important rally of stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry at the premises of the National Theatre, Lagos at 10.00am on August 25. ‘The rally will offer an opportunity to artistes and investors across the industry to network and devise strategies to frontally attack the piracy scourge that is plundering the Nigerian entertainment industry,” the press released informed. On September 1st, delegates representing the music industry would head to the National Assembly in Abuja as broadcast houses would not air  music between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm on this day.

The coalition that decided on the hunger strike and ‘No Music Day’ is made up of Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Nigerian Association of Recording Industries (NARI), Performing & Mechanical Rights Society Ltd/Gte (PMRS), Association of Music Business Professionals (AM.B-Pro), Music Label Owners & Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN), Music Label Owners Association of Nigeria (MULOAN), Gramophone Records & Cassette Dealers (AGRECD), Music Advertisers Association Of Nigeria (MAAN) and Audio /Video CD Sellers Association of Nigeria (AVCDSAN).

Their conclusion at the press conference reads as follows:

1. Set up a Governing Board made up of Nigerians of proven commitment and integrity to design and supervise the activities of the Nigerian Copyright Commission in accordance with the Nigerian Copyright Act as the records show that for more than five years, the Nigerian Copyright Commission has only had a Board for a period of a few months in 2005.

2. Direct the Nigerian Copyright Commission to immediately put on hold the process of approval of any new copyright collective management organization pending the IMMEDIATE convening of a stake holder’s conference on Collective Management to ensure that the process receives input from the stakeholders that will earn any organization emerging from the process the support of the industry.

3. Direct the Inspector General of Police to serve a warning to the traders at Alaba International Market in Lagos, the world’s biggest hotbed of piracy, that if within a specified period the traders do not clean up the market, the government will shut Alaba market down.

Days after I received the press release, I was with friend and an artiste who was checking his emails at my place when he got a mail informing him of the decision and request his support and after reading, he hissed at the decision of a hunger strike and convinced me with the reasons that followed his disgust at the hunger strike decision: “They all (referring to the coalition) sat down and saw hunger strike as an option to fight piracy,” he wailed.

Rumblings and lip service had being how far the fight at piracy had gone but recently, it looks like the entertainment industry particularly the musicians are finally ready to take on the issue with commitment, energy and willpower. History just has not had a tale of success with demonstration or even hunger strike. Remember Charly Boy who was militant in his advocate against piracy and held demonstrations and actions of such years ago with his ‘okada’ (motorcycle) bikers, he got good press coverage for a few days  and in addition, a trip to the police station. Still piracy today is big business.

I honestly believe that the entertainment industry is mistaken in their approach of trying to get the government to handle the issue of piracy on their behalf. The same government that would say “no more discussions with ASUU”.

Ponder over this for a while – Education gets shut out and lecturers are left to keep striking and you think the government would see a ‘small’ (piracy is in no way small) problem with the young,informal and inexperienced musicians as a serious problem that are comparing piracy to the education of the millions of Nigerian students at home as a result of the strike.

Here is what I see as a solution: our penalties against piracy are still stuck in the 17th century. How will a pirate really be detracted from piracy when the penalty for piracy is a token fine and ridiculously short imprisonment in the alternative? Paralyzing civil action is the solution, the pirates are known and getting proof to persecute them is obtainable.

It is an open secret that many members of the industry know who the big pirates are. The industry knows which replicating plants are involved in this and they know the ring leaders of the piracy club in this country. In case of doubt, it is easy to investigate this with private or public investigators to identify the major pirates. Once this is done, it becomes very easy to take them down in a legal way without much fuss and without any hunger strike of civil disobedience.

Take for instance 20 artistes whose works have been pirated by a known pirate suing him individually in different court jurisdictions across the country. If these same 20 artistes repeat the action against 5 different pirates at the same time, we will have 100 individual lawsuits against these pirates. I sincerely believe that ‘Multiple legal offensive’ approach will certainly provide more concrete and measurable solutions in the long run as opposed to the sensational but ultimately ineffective idea of having demonstrations and hunger strikes which will only be reported for a few days before everybody goes back to business as usual.

07025130202, droameh@gmail.com

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Comments
  1. 0defiant says:

    True talk.
    Hunger strike will NOT solve anything. If an artist were to drop dead now, all we’d do were to give him the regular (and probably well deserved) one minute silence due to him and then pack up and goto club waiting for the next party banger.

    Though i may not know much about piracy law and how to combat them, i KNOW that the current approach isn’t working and any of the proposed solutions WILL still not work if we continue to view the issue with a half-hearted attitude and without the active participation of the stakeholders involved. EVeryone just sims to want to release that one hit wonder and they are willing to do anything including employing the help of pirates to get there.

    I wish i could point out a solution…