Published on December 29th, 2009 | by Olumide0
The Fight Against Piracy
In the twenty-something years I’ve spent on earth, I’ve heard great speeches from highly fluent people. From talks on religious beliefs to arguments for democracy or women rights, I’ve seen highly passionate speakers. But I was did not expect anyone to speak with the kind of passion I heard on the 18th of December, 2009 from the General Manager, Microsoft West Africa, Mr Emmanuel at the Microsoft NGO Connection Day. Or at least, not on the issue of piracy.
I’m really sorry to say this: In my country, piracy is a norm. The above average person struggles to buy a fairly used computer (I doubt if up to 10 percent of our people possess at all). It seems almost illogical to expect that a person who just barely manages to have his own computer to spend an amount almost equal to the cost of purchase of the system on getting software. And it definitely doesn’t help matters knowing that such could be gotten for almost free from pirates all around.
So when Mr Emmanuel brought up the issue, I was ready to argue for it. Actually, I try to keep all my software original and I definitely would not advocate for piracy. However, I saw it as just a way of helping the helpless. That was until he pointed out that:
· Piracy is the same as stealing other people’s ideas. People who work hard to develop anything deserve to be well paid for it.
· Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) is the world’s second largest- in terms of number of products. But if you are looking out for quality, it probably wouldn’t rank at all. This is because the really good movies suffer from piracy and most times, their producers don’t make much. Many can just barely sustain production.
· The ultimate price of piracy is high. Computer Village is a huge market in Nigeria. As wonderful as that place could be, it is currently a den of criminals. This is because piracy is a crime punishable by law.
· Microsoft is making moves to make software cheap to the average Nigerian. Mr Emmanuel pointed out that Microsoft Office 2007 is now being sold for about N6500 (and can be installed on 3 computers).
· We pay for piracy. We pay when our youths are trained to believe that it is right to look for alternatives to the original. That mentality is what encourages stealing. In my opinion, it is just the same as paying bribes to get a contract or tipping off the police when your vehicle papers are incomplete. That mentality of cutting corners is one of our greatest problems in Nigeria. Little wonder prominent rulers (like a one-time President of the Senate) have been known to have forged university certificates.
In conclusion, I would like pirates (both the producers and the patronizers) to remember that the world is moving to a state where all computers would need only to connect to the internet in order to make use of whatever software they might need. Installations would be totally unnecessary. If we do not put an end to piracy, our nation would be caught unawares. Our software industry would remain undeveloped and our people would be unprepared for the changes the world will bring. Besides, for all of those of us who wish to produce anything- like writing a book, making a film- please let’s end this scourge. Save our industry. Save our country.