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Businessman convicted for copyright infringement

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Mkukula Senior Chief Resident Magistrate Court on Saturday convicted a businessman after being found in possession of machinery which he was using to produce copies of artists’ works for gainful purposes contrary to section 113 of the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) Act of 2016.

Cosoma spokesperson Ettah Kamanga said Tuesday that the businessman was found guilty, hence being convicted.

Kamanga said Cosoma inspectors got a tip that Chikumbutso Jamu from Kadzalowa Village, Traditional Authority Njolomole, in Ntcheu was in possession of equipment used for duplicating copies of copyright works without authorisation for business purposes in his house at Kaliyeka in Lilongwe.

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She said the inspectors conducted a raid on the suspects’ house and found Jamu in possession of 2,000 master CDs and 68 other CDs, two duplicating machines and other equipment used in carrying out his business of duplicating copies.

Kamanga said the court, through State Prosecutor Inspector Bod Msukwa, pleaded for stiffer punishment for Jamu, stating that the practice of duplicating copies was unwelcome in the society as it economically affects government taxes and artists.

“True owners of these creative works do not benefit from their works as reproduction of the copies disturbs the flow of the market for artists,” Msukwa told the court.

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In his mitigation, the convict prayed for leniency, saying he is a family man looking for his extended family including a daughter of his late sister and that he uses the licence of Dolphin (old employer) who he said had a licence but Senior Chief Resident Magistrate Cecilia Onsewa concluded that that the licence was not his.

Cosoma’s Assistant Licencing Officer Thomas Chirambo said this was a big win for the creative industry in that those who are caught are those that sell pirated copies while the ‘big fish’, the producers, go scot-free.

Chirambo said many artists in the country are failing to benefit from their sweat because of rampant piracy.

He said this malpractice is killing artists’ economic right and that this was contrary to section 29 of the Copyright Act.

According to him, Section 113 Sub-section 4 requires one to obtain a license from Cosoma before production or reproduction of any works.

Chief Resident Magistrate Onsewa has since slated her judgement for Friday.

Jamu, 45, has since been taken to Lumbadzi Police awaiting sentence.

Cosoma which has for the past years earned the wrath of artists for its failure to stamp piracy has been on a move raiding different places in the fight against piracy.

Kamanga said they will continue with the raids and warned pirates that the honeymoon is over and that they will face the law.

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