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Addis Ababa University

Faculty of Journalism and Communication

Movie Piracy in Ethiopian Cinema: Communications Perspective

Masters Thesis Defense

Behailu Shiferaw
June, 2009

Selection of Topic
In the Ethiopian Film Initiative Workshop 23 to 24 June, 2008, Movie piracy was mentioned as major problem
EAPA, EIPO experts confirmed lack of research in the area and echoed the concern of filmmakers. Indian representative had data as to how much is being lost as a result of piracy. But none of the Ethiopian representatives could put figure on it.

To review and prepare literature on movie piracy and on the legal system governing copyrights related issues To prove whether movie piracy exists in Ethiopia and whether it is a problem at this level To assess the process and to identify source of the problem To provide filmmakers with data on which they will base their fight against piracy To put forward recommendations

Limitations of the study:

the scope was limited only to those films primarily protected by the law: Works of authors who are nationals of, or have their principal residence in Ethiopia; Works first published in Ethiopia and, works first published abroad and also published in Ethiopia within 30 days, irrespective of the nationality or residence of their authors; Audiovisual works, the producer of which has his headquarters or principal residence in Ethiopia even if the problem is affecting movies outside this list as well such as those protected by the law through international agreements to which Ethiopia has signed. Due to time and financial limitations

Literature review covered among others

Problems identified in the implementation of the law

Loose legal enforcement, lack of concern among the police, lack of awareness among the judges/attorney .

Legal provisions: EIPO and CNRPP Theory used to analyze and frame the communications process of stakeholders

Theory byHirokawa and Gouran

Functional Perspective of Group Decision Making Theory: Four functions
Problem analysis Goal setting (setting criteria by which to measure output) Setting alternatives (plans a,b,c) Evaluating +ve and ve characteristics

However this theory was regarded incomplete

Theory contd
Critics Cynthia Stohl and Michael Holmes recommended addition of Historical and Institutional Functions
Historical Function: which helps address how past decisions were made, hence avoiding replicating the past, but building on it. Institutional Function: which helps address the relationship (hierarchy) between members and the role of those who are not at the discussion at that time. This function makes sure that each member has equal say in the decision-making process.

Research Methods
Qualitative for the most part. But quantitative method of data
collection (questionnaire) was used to reach those who did not have the time to talk to researcher. Some data was also presented quantitatively to show the prevalence of a certain conviction or behavior.

Sampling methods
Typical sampling methods- to sample disadvantaged films for case study Non-random sampling method used for reaching all accessible filmmakers, to study the fear factor of piracy

Data collection tool: Interview was used for producers of the

films selected to form the case study while most others were reached through questionnaire to make the research empirical as well. Previous researchers were interviewed as well.

Losses Losses suffered by individual filmmakers
Lost their enthusiasm

EFPA indicated that only three of the hundreds of producers ever produced a movie again Financial losses ranging 30,000-500,000 ETB. Some have been left homeless. Some editors/actors/musicians/studios have not been paid after two or more years of end of production

Losses suffered by the economy

No tax from pirates tax evading culture among filmmakers government (economy ) loses 65%of the amount lost by the filmmakers

Findings contd
Losses suffered by the industry
Has become a less attractive industry for business people. Only three of the hundreds of film producers have e ver produced other films again. Less budget (used to produce movies in fear of possible loss) resulted in less quality movies. Lessening number of movies published in VCD/DVD has jeopardized the popularization of cinema in the country
Hailay Tadesse, Manager of EAPA said, 101 of the 250 members of EAPA could not stand the financial and moral disadvantages of piracy and signed out of both the industry and the association. That resulted in decreasing cash flow into the industry

Case studies, they are chosen using typical case sampling method
The 11th Hour:
Worth 1.2 million ETB for production and lost 500,000 ETB due to piracy. Was stolen from the duplication facility Was available in the illegal market four days before the official launch Did not pursue the legal case because he does not trust the legal system as far as CNRPP implementation is concerned

Love and Dance

Sold only 3,000 legal copies and lost not less than 100,000 Does not want to publish his next movie until things get better Pursued legal case but to no avail [long process] Similar theft as The 11th Hour

Case studies
Kezkaza Wolafen and Fikir Siferd
Worth 542,000 and 600,000 ETB respectively. Loss was not indicated. Stolen by a worker in the major duplication facility in the country. Tried to pursue the case but to no avail [fed up by long process]

Sewuna Amelu
Sold his house to produce the movie. Lost 30,000 ETB leave alone making profit. Was advised by the distributors (whom he said are major pirates) not to duplicate more than 3,000 copies. Has yet to sell 200 copies after two years Afraid of the pirates because there was a producer who was stubbed by their gangster groups

Findings continued .
Public and Street vendors attitude/awareness about Movie Piracy Public on movie piracy Most people believe it is fine to buy pirated copies Less understanding of the law Cheaper price for the same quality(Digital data Vs Analogue data), availability across the streets and at street-lights Know that filmmakers themselves violate copyrights since they are in qualms with musicians whose music is used in movies without musicians consent Street vendors on movie piracy Less understanding of disadvantages of piracy Less understanding of the law Get more profit from illegal copies because the pirated ones have more demand than the legal ones

Contributing factors for the expansion of the illegal act
loose legal enforcement lack of communication and cooperation among stakeholders. Individual filmmakers could not venture into the duplication/any other business to paralyze the pirates. Together they would have had better financial muscle. Absence of strong professional association weakened their voice. Could not lobby for their rights due to lack of communication about their common problem. The discussions seem to ignore past experiences or be trapped by failure of the past discussions.
As Teferi Wossen, founder of EFC and former chairperson of EFPA says they [current associations] have chosen to disregard the past, yet still duplicating the same problem.

Movie piracy exists Movie piracy is a problem that needs stakeholders communication and cooperation of all. There is lack of awareness among the public about piracy and its disadvantages There is lack of communication among filmmakers and other stakeholders Filmmakers do not have trust in the legal system as far as CNRPP implementation is concerned The law is not being implemented properly. Rather several reasons are mentioned by the court to justify the expansion of the practice

One government bodys failure is used as justification for the other government body not doing its job properly. E.g. The court gives lighter sentences because EIPO has not popularized the proclamation.

131 of the 288 cases have been dismissed by the court because police could not catch the suspects. The police neither try to reactivate the previous cases even when the suspects are caught in the same practice afterwards
Generally, government showed inability to stop the expanding practice of piracy

Ministry of Culture and Tourism
As a government representative, the ministry should Convince the government to cut tax on importation of filmmaking tools such as modern duplication tools to make non-copiable copies Should remind the police and the court to do their jobs Establishment/facilitation for establishment/ and providing temporary office and budget for a national film council/association

Recommendation contd
Should popularize the proclamation Should discharge the responsibilities bestowed up on it by the establishment proclamation Should facilitate training and awareness creation workshops for police and court about nature of intellectual property rights Should study the issue/compile literature on copyrights and piracy in Ethiopia, and avail information for researchers. Their information center
around National Theatre should be better equipped.

E.g. Should have a virtual database of court cases regarding intellectual property rights violation.

Recommendations contd
Filmmakers Should work hand in hand with EIPO in designing and announcing awareness raising strategies Should come together, communicate their challenges and work toward ending the practice Should use public figures to announce awareness creating messages. Producing TV and Radio spots with anti-piracy messages featuring renowned persons. [Celebs for Creativity Initiative etc]

Recommendations for filmmakers

Should urge duplicators to use better technology to duplicate noncopiable VCD/DVDs Pursue the legal cases to the end so that the pirates know they do not go away with their offences

Should give better profit margin to street vendors so that they would be logically pushed in to selling the legal copies.
Should cooperate with the police to train and set up their own policing team whose job would be to harass illegal vendors and pirates and facilitate raiding campaigns with state police.

The sweat of a mans brows and the exudations of a mans brain are as much a mans own property as the breeches up on his backside.
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy