In an ancient fable, a palm-nut farmer failed to make good profits despite harvesting bountiful palm-nuts. After harvesting his palm-nuts, he stored them in a large sack, which surprisingly never gets filled. Eventually, he discovered that some rats bored holes under the sack for stealing his palm-fruits while he laboured in vain. Without understanding and addressing its cause in Nigeria, piracy may continue robbing and discouraging intellectually productive people.
Many writers, publishers, musicians, artists, movie-producers, software-developers, financial and public institutions continue to suffer under the wave of piracy. Writers fix moderate prices to recover some of the costs for thinking, researching, writing, editing and publishing good books. Yet, after fixing prices, unfair marketers and publishers mass-reproduce cheaper copies without permission or commission for the owner. Since the unfair marketers’ copies are cheaper, people patronize the cheaper copies leaving the main writer’s copies as unsold waste. This discouraging practice occurs in music, films, artwork, software-development and other sectors of intellectual property development.
Intellectual property are creative ideas which people generate and express through writing, music, films, arts, brands or software. People have made great fortunes by providing intellectual property for teaching, comforting, motivating, entertaining or linking people in the society. Most developed societies understand the importance of intellectual property in renewing and improving the quality of life in the society. Hence, they support, reward, promote and protect their citizens’ intellectual property in order to encourage more productivity in their society. The societies that reward and make efforts to protect intellectual property include USA, Germany, Canada, England and France. Though, there may not be a society with perfect control of piracy, these mentioned societies frankly strive to curb piracy.
Despite several pleas, lamentations and threats from governments and intellectual property owners in Nigeria, piracy subsists and increases. This consistent piracy raises questions about the difference in social situations.
Why is it possible to control piracy in developed societies and not in Nigeria?
- Most of the developed societies grew through stages of conflicts and dialogue to the level of harmonizing their society to accommodate and appreciate different people’s contributions to the society. Hence, governments of developed societies encourage diverse forms of creativity to attract, motivate and entertain their productive population.
British colonialists formed Nigeria by forcefully yoking several unconsented communities and kingdoms together for resource-exploitation. Nigeria’s imposed government seizes and auctions different peoples’ mineral resources to former colonialists in exchange for foreign goods and services. Hence, Nigerian government seems disinterested in ventures that don’t involve auctioning resources for foreign exchange.
- The laws in developed societies proceed from the people’s dialogue for their productivity, and is binding on everybody. Hence, government and law enforcement agencies strive to maintain the laws to encourage more productivity and socio-economic growth.
Nigerian laws were imposed by the British colonial masters, and has been edited by favoured politicians for exploiting the different peoples’ resources. Both the government and the people, upon whom the laws were imposed do not understand the effects of those laws. The government officials are more interested in the sections that join the unconsented people for seizing and selling mineral resources. Other parts without influence on promoting their access to people’s resource and foreign exchange may never receive serious attention.
- Due to diverse productivity and cash-circulation among people in developed societies, they are able to pay for their preferred hobbies. In stable economies with low unemployment, they understand that patronizing one another’s business promotes the general standard of living. Hence, moderately comfortable people can spend on inspiring and entertaining contents both to enjoy themselves and to encourage the producers.
Due to federal seizure of production-resources and eventual dependence on importation, many Nigerians are unproductive and extremely poor. Many Nigerians cannot afford to pay adequate amounts for the value of intellectual property they require. Hence, they resort to buying cheaper copies, even when they know the implications to the real owners.
Despite the copyright laws, desperately poor people will continue patronizing cheaper pirated copies, while the unemployed will continue pirating for survival. Even law enforcement agents struggling to survive on meagre-salaries patronize cheaper pirated copies instead of opposing them. With the rate of poverty and unemployment in Nigeria, it is difficult to address piracy without resolving unproductivity. And it may be impossible to address unproductivity without addressing the social structure that seizes people’s resources for foreign exchange. Thus, addressing the problem of piracy in Nigeria will grow from the reorganization of the Nigerian society for productivity.
The social reorganization process that will link up to piracy-control in Nigeria includes:
- Conducting a social research to ascertain and acknowledge the different Nigeria’s peoples and their respective lands and resources.
- Organizing intercommunal conferences among sections and groups towards a national conference for Nigerians to agree on their mode of partnership. Hence, constitutional decisions and laws will reflect the people’s beliefs and agreement for a better partnership.
- Inviting specialists to train the people on processing their local resources for advanced production. Then releasing the people’s resources for them to manage and pay taxes to the central government. This will encourage government to protect the people’s productivity for better tax-returns, and encourage citizens to become productive. A productive people will eventually afford the type of intellectual property they require without recourse to piracy.
ADDRESSING PIRACY PROPER
- Form or identify unions for different areas of intellectual property development: Actors guild, writers’ guild, musicians, artists, software developers and other guilds.
- Use social media and other communication channels to educate the society on the negative effects of piracy. ‘Piracy destabilizes a society’s zeal for productivity, even for the offenders’ or their relatives’ future intellectual contents.’
- Form special security trademarks or barcodes for identifying original works as distinct from pirated copies. Every sale will go into a national database so that the government can get tax-percentage on every sale.
- Formulate policies and laws to tackle piracy, which include arrests, prosecution, fines and jail-terms. Following this policy, pirated copies will be traced to their sources in order to arrest both the producers and marketers of pirated works.
If people have sustainability and understand the effect of piracy on general productivity, they will support protection of original copies. But if they remain poor and desperate, they see themselves as victims of a society which they must fight by all means, including piracy.
 Copyright Act, Cap C28 Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004
 Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. https://restartnaija.com/2018/06/05/social-research-new-consented-nigeria/ retrieved
 Ayaba Olori, How to stop piracy in Nigeria entertainment industry, In Naija blog queen Olofofo, Tuesday, 14 July 2015 http://www.naijaqueenolofofo.com/2015/07/piracy-in-nigeria-entertainment-industry.html retrieved 20-04-2018