By Chima Okereke
This Omoni Oboli’s embarrassing and annoying situation was avoidable. There are limits to “go and do your worse.”
Jude Idada a writer, accused Omoni Oboli a producer, of infringing on his rights to his intellectual property- his script. Omoni’s defence was that the script is hers and she wrote it 100%, before going ahead to shoot it.
She was however stopped at the venue of the premiere through a court injunction.
But there were options she would have followed. Options that would have been beneficial to both parties.
Someone, some people could have been called upon to intervene independently and reasonably. Every profession has its risks, especially a rapidly growing one like Nollywood. And this is one of them. It is a mark of industry’s growth.
Now her premiere was stopped at the event venue and in front of her invitees. And the well planned release halted. A stitch in time could have indeed saved nine, but she took it for granted.
Grandstanding can make a cripple run. Even when one is right, there is always room and reason for compromise, no matter how little. Nollywood has gone beyond, ‘me-against-you,’ it is now a collective business, with chains linking each other. One’s business has become everyone’s business.
Jude Idada insists that “Okafor’s law” is his script and a court in the land, thinks Jude has reasons to stop the distribution of “his intellectual property,” hence the injunction.
Those bringing in sentiments must understand that intellectual property issues are not just things you wish away with a wave of the hand. Jude Idada must have provided “evidence,” a simple sign of breach of rights for an injunction to be grant by the court to protect him. That is the job of state- protection of rights of every citizens.
If Omoni Oboli feels otherwise, she has to be in court to fight it. She has to argue convincingly for the injunction to be “vacated.” She has to counter the evidence provided by Jude.
We saw some electronic materials made available by Jude Idada and those materials, if true, shows contact between both parties. It is going to still be messy as it was then when this issue was raised.
Now, everyone is spending money but Omoni Oboli is and will continue to be the worst hit.
This mess was avoidable, if someone was thinking like a business person and that person is Omoni Oboli. It would have been forgotten if it was handled differently. Jude knew he had an ace up his sleeves, when Omoni called his bluffs and went ahead to shoot the controversial script.
There are procedures in handling this and both sides missed the point, especially Omoni Oboli.
There are ways such issues are handled and it would have resulted in smiling faces for all parties. Now it is a little too late. It is now a fight to finish and that is not good for a producer. If it were before in Nollywood where films are released in VCDs, nothing would have happened, the film would have still been released into the market and Jude can only cry, shout, curse and possibly sue till he gets tired.
That notwithstanding, however, Nollywood is a big beneficiary of this case, because writers now see what they can do when their intellectual property rights are breached. Producers now understand that you must know the implication of minor negligible mistakes. Distributors will now be more circumspect of controversially produced films. In all, everyone will be more careful. Nollywood is now more than a “Chima make we shoot film” thing, it is now expanding and we must expand with it. There is a little gap (though likely to close soon) for a way forward and that excludes emotional outbursts and actions.
Omoni Oboli was thinking like an actor, rather than a producer and businessman. She, at this point will hear hard words, emotion-laden advises, but really needs to weigh her options now and in future and take a decision, and make it fast too.
Chima Okereke is a movie director, screenwriter and convener, Nollywood Forum for Development.