Nollywood’s Chances Are Hurt by Rampant Piracy

Have you ever heard of Nollywood? Apparently, Nigeria’s film business is 2nd only to its better known cousin from India. A story by Will Connors datelined Lagos told the story of a booming business that’s threatened only by something insidiuous–piracy. In 2006 nearly 900 movies came straight outta Lagos.

Not the piracy we hear about off the Somali coast, no the type that undercuts so many legitimate software companies, music labels and filmmakers. It seems that Nigeria’s creative output is huge, and the demand is so high that when fans can’t buy a legal copy they go out and get the bootlegged version, killing prices for the struggling filmmakers.

One title that the story said gives Nigeria its biggest chance at international exposure is called “Usuofia in London,” about an African who goes straight from his village into London. So far more than 500,000 DVDs have been sold. In Nigeria films are shot for between $15-25,000 and hit the street vendors and video clubs quickly. But 70% of their yearly revenue from selling the films is lost to piracy, since they burn the movies onto non-copy protected DVDs. A big seller will run short of these legal copies so pirates fill the void, but of course none of them pay anything back to the filmmaker.

The police here seem to have more important work to do than crack down on DVD-copying operations….one raid ended with a brief confrontation and the pirates burning the police truck to the ground, but no stop to the copying.