THE NIGERIAN HOME VIDEO INDUSTRY: A SURVEY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF VIDEO RENTALS AND THE COPYRIGHT LAW
WEEKLY SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY
THE PERFORMING AND VISUAL ARTS DEPARTMENT, KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY MALETE
The Nigerian entertainment industry, particularly the movie sector has been battling with the problem of copyright infringement in the last two decades or more. In spite the legal framework put in place, (i.e. copyright Act 1988 and at its various amendments) to check the activities of copyright violators, the problems persist. The worst hit by this seemingly intractable problem is the video film production industry which is being confronted not only with the problem of piracy but also that of illegal video rental operators activities who are reaping heavily from where they did not sow. This is course, at the expense of film producers, most of whom are only striving to make ends meet in spite of the enormous efforts (material and financial) they regularly put in the production of the movies. This unfortunate situation informed this study which critically looks at the activities of video rental outlet in the context of the provisions of the copyright Act of 1990 and the subsequent 1988 amendment relating specifically to the activities of video rental outlets. The study shows that through while the establishment of video rental outlets is approved by the law, most of the operators, particularly those in Kwara State are not compliant. Similarly, most of the film producers have also failed to comply with the basic provisions of the 1999 copyright amendment Act, thereby making both the video rental operators and the film makers culpable. Thus in ensuring a way forward for the video film industry in Nigeria, this paper suggests that a regime of an effective monitoring of the operations of video rentals and as well as better compliance level of the film makers with the provisions of the act. This can be effectively done only if the copyright commission, the body changed with this function is adequately funded and equipped for the role for a more meaningful order.
Although film exhibition started during the colonial era with Glover Memorial Hall hosting several films shows which were viewed by Lagos residents since 1903, actual film production in Nigeria did not begin until after the nation’s independence in the 1960s. After the initial productions, early Nigerian film makers could not sustain the film production business because of it high cost of production and the non-commensurate income generated from the investment in the industry.
As a result, there was the need to look for cheaper and more profitable ways of producing movies in Nigeria. As clearly submitted by Jonathan Haynes (2007) video film production in Nigeria began as a result of the general economic collapse that made celluloid film impossibly expensive. This is in addition to the sharp increase in violent crimes in Nigeria which made it dangerous to go out at night watch films at the cinema houses.
Reprieve however came for film practitioners in Nigeria in 1992 when a local entrepreneur, chief Kenneth Nnebue produced and released the first popular and commercially successfully video film, “Living in Bondage” the success of the film marked the beginning of massive production of local video films with complete indigenous content and local artistes who later became big stars in the industry. From then on, many entrepreneurs began funding video film production due to the huge profits that they generated while studies began to emerge for post production work on these films.
Nollywood, as the Nigerian video film industry is popularly referred to has within the short period of its existence recorder remarkable successes. Jonathan Haynes (2007) says; in a mere two decades, Nollywood has become one of the world’s most important creative industries. It has been an...
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