I just read a very well written and thought-provoking article on how piracy affects the Kenyan movie industry: Secrets About Piracy Revealed By Jitu Films Director. It seems that a very interesting problem plagues our industry:
- Piracy is apparently illegal in Kenya.
- However, all those “DVD for 50 bob” shops in town sell nothing but illegal pirated stuff. But they sell foreign films and so no one bothers to go after them. (An instance of how the law fails local film makers).
- Those shops in town can never dare try to sell Kenyan movies because they need a special license to do so and because if they did, the city council will be on top of them quickly.
- This presents an interesting problem for local film makers: they cannot hope to compete on price with foreign films. Would you buy “The Rugged Priest” at 100/- when “Avatar” is available at 50 bob?
- To add to that, there is no local DVD factory hence local film makers have to import these and pay import taxes on top of all the other ‘normal’ taxes int heir industry. Essentially, they are unable to sell their movies at 50 bob and remain financially viable. The illegal shops in town selling pirated stuff pay no taxes.
- This creates a situation where locally made movies are more expensive than foreign movies. They are also harder to find because to sell them you need a special licence which the 50 bob shops typically do not get.
Of course this creates an industry in which it is difficult to make much good money. What do you think can be done to overcome these problems?
IN my mind, piracy is a problem that can be best solved by offering a more convenient alternative. However, I am not to sure what, exactly, can be done to bring up such an alternative.
Through my brief work with Space Yangu, I read numerous emails from people asking us where they could buy Kenyan movies. I believe there’s demand here and money to be made – someone just needs to figure out the logistics. I can think of two approaches to a solution:
- Someone to open a chain of little shops in Nairobi (and eventually elsewhere) to sell Kenyan movies. (this was suggested in the linked article)
- Someone could open up a huge online shop that sells and delivers a wide selection of Kenyan movies. Perhaps it could eventually lead to a Netflix like service.
What do you think can be done?