Read the first part of this article here

So, what hope is there for protection of artistes, legally? A rhetorical question even I am not prepared to answer. In other countries(I refuse to use the word “civilised”), legal loopholes are plugged almost as soon as they are created but in Nigeria, we are still at the very ‘stone age’ era of intellectual property trying to answer questions like which agency (or agencies) should serve as collecting society(ies); so we may not be able to relate every point in this article to Nigeria.

However, we all have access to the internet and even though trickles of Nigerian songs are available online, the same cannot be said of access to works by international artistes. There are programs such as Limewire, Emule, Kazaa, Emule which are available for download on their respective websites from where one can share just about anything with other computers linked to the host’s servers. Nowadays, there are sites which do not require you downloading some funny/phony program with a high population of malwares and spywares. These sites include mp3raid.com and 4shared.com. Most of the companies behind these websites have been subjects of litigation and criticism as is exemplified in Lars Ulrich’s outburst in the introduction to this article. By the way, Napster somehow went down after outbursts like Lars’ from different quarters ensured a flurry of litgation.

The only reason why Nigeria is probably not on the list of countries with the highest number of file stealers is because internet connectivity is not particularly state-of-the art in the country. But soon it would be fast and more files by our artistes would definitely be uploaded by zealous file-sharers. More so, we have many artistes now who are getting warm receptions internationally and they might soon come under threat very soon. In fact, I recall visiting the Youtube channels of some Nigerian-born international artistes to simply view their videos to see what stuff these artistes are made of, only to run into a virtual wall that prevented me from viewing these videos. The message left for me on these walls ran something like: “Sorry, you are not allowed to view this video in your country due to copyright concerns”. Did I hear you say a big “What?”. Well, I guess, those artistes were only being futuristic and pre-emptive.

My plea is that we pity the likes of Lars Ulrich and our own here in Nigeria. I’m pleading, rather than threatening you legally. Free downloads may be really pleasurable, but your pleasure is wrecking the intellectual ships of the few artistes who are brave enough to be creative. Channel your creativity into something positive, not theft. You may say that you are not the actual thief, since you did not upload the song, video or file, but going by my knowledge of law, you are an accomplice…and an accomplice is as guilty as a thief.

Seun Idowu.

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