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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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Tobe Writes: THE AUDACITY OF INTELLECTUAL THEFT

All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other – except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of the author.

I guess it is needless to state where I got the aforementioned quotation from, that is if you have ever been an observant and conscious reader. I read those lines last week from a book, and for the first time in the annals of my short life, it made a deep impression on me. Most importantly, it dawned on me that more often than not, I have indulged in intellectual breach. Without mincing words and with a remorseful heart, I confess: I am a resourceful photocopier of books and an unabashed patronizer of pirated books. Do I have a witness in the house?

Sometime this month, President Jonathan complained that Nigerians encourage corruption. Personally I was like, yeah I know, but it’s in a small scale. Hello, did I just say small scale? My bad. We are neck deep into it, but the problem is, our style of corruption has been ‘innocentized.’ It has become such a norm, that most us do not even know we are more dangerous and destructive than highway robbers in our day-to-day, socially-acceptable privatized stealing. It has become such a lifestyle, that most of us are braver in our stealing act than our mendacious politicians. We are so deep in our shortcut practices that it will be very much easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for some of us to repent from our iniquitous acts.

Stealing is not only when a man uses a weapon to obtain another man’s possession, neither is it limited to when an honourable member diverts the money meant for constituency projects to massage his frivolous lifestyle. No, stealing is much more than that. Stealing remotely includes, when you consciously or unconsciously buy a pirated work, when you photocopy another man’s work without authorization, when you lift someone’s intellectual work without giving due credits, when you adapt another man’s creative work without prior permission, when you buy one single CD and miraculously feed five thousand people from your bedroom with it, without remitting fully to the intellectual owner.

Last year December, I went to Yaba to buy a shoe and some books. I wanted to get Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country, and I knew I would definitely find a pirated copy of it in that thriving market. After buying a brown leather shoe for 6 thousand naira, I decided it was time to hunt for books. I’d presumed that if I started with books, I may end up expending the money for shoe on books. After paying 800 naira for the pirated version of the said book and other variant sums for different non-pirated books, I went home feeling disturbed. I have been buying pirated books for years, but I could not place my hand on this recently invigorated feeling of remorse. Now, each time I see the original version of There Was A Country, I always have this feeling that I stole mine. Each time I see the book, I have this feeling that I have robbed that intellectual powerhouse of the monetary value accrued to his work.  Each time I look at his picture in the book, I strongly sense him telling me: E tu Brute (even you Brutus).

Anything worth possessing is worth buying the original. If I could buy a pair of shoes for 6k, why couldn’t I dispense such an amount for a book which is timeless and ageless? I know my story is the same with that of so many Nigerians who can buy original high urban expensive wears, gadgets and wheels, but can never buy or understand the logic behind buying original DVDs (be it foreign or local), books and films.

Speaking of films. . .

I was discussing with a prolific Asaba scriptwriter and director last year, and I aired my disdain for this new trend of films being broken into different parts – some are ludicrously up to Part 6 or 8 – and he told me frankly that it does not give them joy as well. He said that it is the only way the marketers (investors) reap their money back since piracy became a virile industry. These marketers decided to sell their films (which are supposed to be one film) at the same low price with the pirates, but then, they’d have to break it into different parts with different titles. Consequently, you can now buy the sequel of a film without knowing it’s a sequel, if you do not have a discerning spirit. That reminded me of the Igbo proverb that said, since the birds have learnt to fly without perching, the hunter has learnt to shoot without aiming. Such chaos!

We can complain about the government stealing public funds all we want, but let’s remember that daily, we make so many writers, producers, singers, actors and authors remain penniless by our innocent but harmful habit of enjoying their intellectual work free of charge (FOC). GOD is watching all of us in 3D. Perhaps, this is why He has refused to answer your prayers, because you are heinously reaping another man’s sweat. GOD is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth that shall he reap. If you patronize a pirated work, you reap a pirated blessing. For those shylock publishers, owners of machine plants where people’s works are pirated, their distributing agents, photocopiers of peoples books – our educational institution helped to entrench this act – and those psychedelic lecturers who malevolently use their students’ projects without giving them due credit: Hades awaits you all if you do not stop in your tracks.

We need to repent from this daily theft which civilization has helped make more subtle, cool and trendy. Solomon captures it all in Proverbs 9:

“Stupidity is like a loud, ignorant, shameless woman. She sits at the door of her house or on a seat in the highest part of the town, and calls out to people passing by. . .‘Stolen water is sweeter, stolen bread tastes better’. Her victims do not know that the people die who go to her house, that those who have already entered are now deep in the world of the dead.”

Sin is sin, no matter how smart and simple it looks. A thief is a thief no matter how gentle and little he takes. I have repented. WHAT OF YOU?

By Tobe Osigwestealing-content

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Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. chika

     /  September 29, 2013

    Hmmm thoughtful

    Reply
  2. williamsalfredeteka

     /  September 29, 2013

    Hahahaha. I’m guilty! But can’t help it.

    Reply
  3. kriss ejike

     /  September 29, 2013

    There’s no gainsaying the fact that a whole lot of us are neck deep into stealing but almost all of us do not realise this. We are always quick to point accusing fingers at our politicians and those at the helm of affairs in our society-needless to say, they have become a perfect model and example when describing criminals and thieves. However, we also share a part in their unruly act in our daily lives. Stealing is stealing and sin is sin as all sins are equal before Christ. May God help us realise this and resolve to quit no matter what. Well done toby!

    Reply
  4. Such thoughtful write up!
    Most of us are guilty….especially with buying pirated books and CDs and photocopying books!
    It takes deep conviction to change…i pray to find mine soon

    Reply
  5. john

     /  September 30, 2013

    Hahaha

    Reply
  6. MztaPaul

     /  September 30, 2013

    “…and those psychedelic lecturers who malevolently use their students’ projects without giving them due credit: Hades awaits you all if you do not stop in your tracks….” I like that line.

    “Et tu Brute?”

    Reply

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