The exponential growth of the musical entertainment industry in Nigeria has not come without its attendant challenges of copyright infringements and piracy.
It is for this reason that the Lagos City Reporters has through its correspondent, Prince Joe, published a very thought-provoking piece on piracy in Nigeria, using the voice of Award winning songstress Seyi Shay to amplify its message.
The article highlights the reality of the Nigerian musician as well as other musicians who are victims of piracy in a large market where they should otherwise thrive on the monetary returns of their intellectual property. Piracy in Nigeria has brought about a reversal of order as artistes have had to pay in various ways for their music to be heard and a case in point is when Seyi Shay had to give up rights to her music by allowing her song to be used as the soundtrack of a popular video game, without earning from it.
According to Seyi Shay – ‘’Out here, nobody cares about the rules”. Which is true as the singer confessed to making only a little money from sales as a result of the rampant piracy thereby relying on endorsements and shows to make money.
According to her, artists across the world battle illegal sales of their work. But Nigeria’s piracy problem is so ingrained that music thieves worry about rip-offs of their rip-offs, slapping warning labels on pirated CDs to insist that “lending is not allowed.”
In Lagos, Africa’s biggest city, legitimate music stores are rare, streaming services haven’t caught on and fans are flocking to markets like Computer Village, with its rows of yellow umbrellas shading young men selling illegal downloads. Throughout the city, thousands of pirated CDs are churned out each day, and some artists even pay to appear on them, hoping the exposure will somehow be worth it.
But now, members of the country’s music industry are trying to put a stop to all the pilfering, hoping they can finally turn the growing popularity of Nigerian music to their advantage.
Nigerian music — Afrobeats in particular — is having a moment. It blares in hotel lobbies, airport lounges, nightclubs and the dozens of bedroom recording studios where young men and women dream of stardom in this clogged, overheated city.
While many countries have courts or jurists focused on intellectual property cases, artists in Nigeria have only in recent years begun to pursue copyright protection. They complain that laws to protect them are so seldom invoked that some judges don’t even know they exist.
Recording artists are pressing cellphone companies for more money to use their songs, the Nigerian government recently announced a new push to protect intellectual property, and the national copyright commission created an institute to train musicians, and judges, about artists’ rights.
“We’re trying to change people’s perception about the use of music,” said Chinedu Chukwuji, chief executive of the Copyright Society of Nigeria. “Music is everywhere, but they don’t know it’s proprietary.”