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BATTLING FILM PIRACY IN NIGERIA: TOYIN ABRAHAM’S STRUGGLE AND THE FIGHT FOR CREATIVE RIGHTS

In a gripping tale that mirrors the challenges faced by many in the Nigerian entertainment industry, Nollywood actress and filmmaker, Toyin Abraham, reveals the personal toll of film piracy on her latest production, ‘Malaika.’ The actress disclosed in a recent interview that the unauthorized distribution of her work has not only hit her pockets but also led to “panic attacks”, necessitating hospitalization.

Released initially for cinema viewing on December 21, 2023, ‘Malaika’ became a victim of piracy, prompting Abraham and co-producer Seun Olayemi to file a criminal complaint. The Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) swiftly took action, apprehending five suspects, including two women, allegedly involved in the conspiracy, infringement of intellectual property, piracy, and cyber-related crimes related to the unlawful utilization of cyberspace to broadcast the movie.

According to ASP Aminat Mayegun, the spokesperson for the FCID, the suspects illicitly accessed the movie, uploaded it to their website, and created a streaming web link for global audiences to view the film without payment. The complainants argue that this not only infringed on their intellectual rights but also denied them rightful profits while the culprits unlawfully profited from their creative endeavor.

The scale of the issue is further emphasized by the significant investment Abraham made in ‘Malaika,’ totaling around N500 million. This financial commitment underscores the high stakes involved for filmmakers and the substantial losses incurred when piracy runs rampant.

Commending the police for their swift response, Abraham expressed her commitment to combating piracy for the greater good of the entertainment industry. The arrest of the suspects serves as a testament to the collaborative efforts between law enforcement and industry players, as highlighted by AIG Idowu Owohunwa, in charge of the FCID Alagbon. Owohunwa has pledged to continue collaborating with movie industry stakeholders and the Nigerian Copyright Commission to eradicate criminal elements plaguing the creative space.

Assistant Inspector General of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, leading the charge from FCID Alagbon, remains resolute in the fight against piracy. Owohunwa has pledged continued collaboration with the Nigerian Copyright Commission and stakeholders in the movie industry to purge it of such malpractices.

The joint investigation by the Anti-Fraud and Cybercrime Sections of the FCID identified the websites involved in the piracy. The primary individual under scrutiny acknowledged involvement in online piracy, disclosing assistance from an individual associated with www.36vibes.com.ng, a platform known for cybercrimes. Subsequently, this revelation extended beyond ‘Malaika,’ uncovering the unauthorized reproduction of Funke Akindele’s film, ‘A Tribe Called Judah.’

This incident sheds light on the broader struggle against piracy in Nigeria, emphasizing the need for a united front to protect intellectual property and ensure the sustainability of the country’s vibrant entertainment industry. As the legal battle unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that a multifaceted approach involving technology, legislation, and industry collaboration is crucial to curb the menace of film piracy and safeguard the creative rights of artists.

This crackdown not only serves justice for Toyin Abraham and the creators of ‘Malaika’ but also illuminates the intricate web of piracy networks that authorities are actively dismantling to safeguard the creative rights and financial interests of the Nigerian entertainment industry.

Kudos to this development!

How do you think we can collectively address the challenge of film piracy in Nigeria and ensure a thriving environment for creativity and innovation in the entertainment industry? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

By Shalom O. Obisesan

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