Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ahead!
Today, I discuss how Nollywood (the eponymous Nigeria’s movie industry) can improve revenue. I do not really watch the movies because of time, but in my family, there are fans: the TV seems perpetually connected to YouTube for Nollywood. I used to follow in the days of Living in Bondage, Circle of Doom, and Glamour Girls before I lost track of the amalgam of new productions which are released daily. With new actors and actresses, Nigeria has got a great sector there. The people that pioneered this industry, creating new sources of employment, deserve our commendation.
Nollywood is an enigma. I had expected they would run out of money because of piracy. Yes, I am always astonished how the producers make money with so much piracy happening on YouTube, illegal shops and elsewhere. On music, Facebook is not far, hosting “personal contents” with clear instructions not to distribute. Yes, users distribute copyrighted movies and music with little consequences. But to blame Facebook and Google will miss the mark: the law is on their side. All they need to do is to remove the contents, after alerting them, if you think the hosted contents are copyrighted. The problem is that policing ecosystems with billions of users is a lost cause. You have no chance.
This is my suggestion for Nollywood producers: do not bother asking YouTube and Facebook to be removing the copyrighted movies and music. It is a waste of time especially when the producers do not have resources to hire people to police the piracy within these platforms. Rather, the Nollywood association should approach Facebook and Google with a proposal. That proposal should be for Google and Facebook to pay their producers for the rights to movies and songs uploaded by their users. In other words, as soon as the users upload the contents, the rights go to Facebook and Google thereby making the process non-illegal.
This arrangement has two benefits: the producers would not have to bother asking Facebook and YouTube to remove the contents and the tech companies will not have to deal with legal challenges that may result for hosting digital wares they do not have rights to use. Of course, the more money for Nollywood is not bad.
While Facebook and Google may not initially like this plan, I am very sure if the association explains their challenges, the technology companies will listen. The key is making it clear to Facebook and Google that Nollywood can provide great contents in their ecosystems in the right way. That will be a win-win as the tech firms would improve user experiences even as the producers have more resources to make better movies.
For Nollywood to move to Nollywood 2.0 with better funded movies, they will have to deal with the revenue side of the business. Having a clear roadmap on how to deal with Facebook and YouTube will be fundamental to that future. Despite nearly 27 years of making movies, the improvement on movie quality has been largely incremental. Nollywood has to change that and advance faster.
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