16 students from three of the country's tertiary institutions have been apprehended by the police for pirating several movies including Leila Djansi's Ties that Bind.
The students, some presently assisting the police with investigations, are from the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
Of the 16, five were arrested at the University of Ghana while seven were arrested from the KNUST and four from the UCC. The police found copies of the Ties that Bind on their hard drives.
Their arrest came after several weeks of investigations by the police and movie producer and director Leila Djansi whose movies were the most pirated.
According to Leila, who confirmed the arrest to Myjoyonline.com from her base in the US, “Hopefully that [arrest] will deter the students from this act.”
She said she got a tip-off during the premiere of Ties that Bind at Legon some weeks ago that some students already had copies of the movie “so I arrested [one of the] students who revealed where he got it from,” leading to the arrest of the Legon students by the Legon Police two weeks ago.
The award-winning director added that “I search twitter a lot, so at KNUST, I caught some students who tweeted 'now watching [Ties That Bind] and I traced them and that is how I got the KNUST students.”
The Dean of students at the KNUST, Leila disclosed, “did not want the police to deal with the students, so he sent the police away and handed the students over to the campus lawyer. But we got their signed confessions with the campus lawyer.”
The director said she is taking them to court and she is seeking US$100,000 jointly from them.
In another development, the FBI and the New York Police are currently searching for a Ghanaian based in the US who is said to be the kingpin of the piracy trade.
Leila explained that “what the African movie marketing network does here in New York is buy rights to films for like US$3,000 to US$10,000 and then produce DVDs. For Sinking Sands and Adams Apples, because no one in the network was given US distribution rights, they call it 'no one's films' and take the liberty to pirate.”
“Now where Sinking Sands or any of the films are concerned, they are not Ghanaian films. Sinking Sands is licensed by Indieflix Studios, Ties that Bind also just got picked up by another studio. The fact that I am Ghanaian and I shoot in Ghana and use Ghanaians does not make the films Ghanaian films because the production company is not Ghanaian and the financing is also not Ghanaian. But I let it be called that because I like it, doing something for my country.”
“So it is annoying really that some people who claim to be film marketers or distributors and have refused to learn about the industry, capitalize on the idea that this is a Ghanaian film so I will do it like I want,” she added.
According Leila, the Ghanaian in question “printed 3,000 copies and I sell at US$10 so US$30,000 but it may be more because Ghanaian students also did their fair share and considering revenue lost, I'll put it at 50-60 percent.”
There are suspicions that the movies being pirated by the kingpin may have leaked initially from Ghana.