Monday, 22 May 2017

Copyright Commission Seizes over N5.5Bn DSTV copyrighted broadcast equipments in Anambra

Image result for pictures of copyright commission

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has said it has impounded broadcast materials worth over N5.5 billion illegally used in rebroadcasting MultiChoice Nigeria DSTV signals in Anambra State.

Among the pirated DSTV broadcast bouquets equipments seized at about ten different locations in Onitsha and Nnewi were boosters, decoders, senders, wires, dishes,  among others pirates were using to defraud MultiChoice Nigeria which is the sole broadcast of La Liga, premiership and championship matches.

Disclosing this in an interview with Orient Daily in Awka, Mr Augustine Aliyu Amodu, the Director of Enforcement, Nigeria Copyright Commission, explained that the items were recovered during their anti piracy raids at Onitsha on Thursday, and Nnewi on Friday.

“We mounted surveillance at various locations in Onitsha where we discovered that piracy is ongoing for long. We have raided most of these places in the past. Last year, we raided them four times. At first, they reported us to police station. We went and resolution was reached that they will not go back to the illegal business. However, they returned to it after we left due to its lucrative nature.

“On Friday, we raided Nnewi to find out the illegalities carried out by the same cyber pirates. Although we could not discover their power house, we recovered cables, dishes and other broadcast materials worth about N1.5bn.

“What they do is to buy a Multichoice DSTv decoder; scrap it to connect Airtel sim cards, which they subsequently connect cables they illegally pass through EEDC electric poles to unsuspecting customers destinations for illegal distributions of Multichoice broadcast signals. They charge these subscribers between N2000 to N3000 and above per match. This is totally piracy and punishable by law. These illegal subscription fees they collect are more than a monthly salary of senior civil servants, custom officers and others.

“We cannot allow this illegality to continue. It is unfortunate that this thing is happening in Nigeria at era of President Muhammadu Buhari’s change mantra. This is a complete sabotage of the current administration’s relentless efforts to sanitise the country. The Nigerian Copyright Commission would not relent to ensuring that the hoodlums are brought to book. We have issued series of warnings on them to stop perpetuating this illegality and properly subscribe to MultiChoice bouquets. But they seemed to turn deaf ears to our sensitisations.

“The section 38 of Nigerian Copyright Act empowered us to enter, inspect, arrest and prosecute copyright violators where there are reasonable evidence of infringement on copyright of people or an institution. The subsection 5 of the same section 38 of NCC Act gave us all powers of Nigeria Police except bearing of arms. Multichoice Nigeria is the only company with the sole right to show La Liga, Championship and Premiership. The license cost them money. Therefore we cannot allow any individual, groups or institution to infringe on their rights. Those who want to show the matches must subscribe to them.

“We are here for the interest of public service. We shall continue to work in the interest of public service. Copyright infringement does not allow people and country to grow. It does not create job or support economy growth. That is why we are working harder to minimize it because we know that stopping it completely is like a camel trying to pass through a needle. It’s still on even in America. The NCC under the leadership of Director General, Mr Afam Ezekude is working. It’s just that broadcast piracy is too much in the South to be compared to what is tenable in the north. All these black cables you see passing through the PHCN poles are illegally connected DSTV bouquets. We are on surveillance at Awka. We will surely visit them as soon as we conclude our investigations.

On other raids the commission has carried out in the country, Amodu said, “We have been raiding Warri, Sapale, Ugheli, Benin, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, and so on. We are all over the country. There was a time we seized over 36 containers of pirated optical CDs worth about N6.1b, literatures worth N6000m, softwares, and others at Ajegunle and other locations. Piracy is a cankerworm eating deeper into the fabrics of the world. It is equal to robbery.

“You don’t have to rob people intellectual property to excel. You should create yours if you think their tariff is too expensive. We have HiTV Nigeria before Multichoice came on board. The same bouquets it bought is the same thing multichoice bought. Nigerians should learn to manage their business and resources and stop accusing others of higher tariff. Although some may argue that it comes from South Africa, it is Multichoice Nigeria not Muiltichoice South Africa. It is operational here under the management of a Nigerian as managing Director. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari needs to be supported to achieve economy diversification through putting a stop on copyright” he maintained.

On likely impacts of piracy on the company, the MuiltiChoice Anti-Piracy, South South/South East Zonal Manager, Eze Oliver Multi reiterated that, “We lose over 100 billion dollars per annum. The implications of these illegal re-broadcasting of our broadcast signals is that we have no access to revenue we ought to generate from these unsuspecting customers that subscribed to them. It’s also affecting the Nigeria economy because we have nothing to pay our taxes and other infrastructural needs. So it impacts negatively on us and government.

“Those who think that our tariff plans are too expensive to subscribe to should also note that running business in Nigeria is equally too high. The government bureaucracy is affecting us. We have never used Nigeria’s power supply but always on diesel 24 hours just to satisfy our customers. We have over 830 channels, pay for movies, and other contents we disseminate to customers per annum in dollars. The interesting aspect of it is that we are been charged considering the African landmass we cover not based on our subscribers. So the pirates should not complain that our tariff is costly because the services we provide are incomparable to the tariff we charged.” 



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