Despite receiving heavy criticism from the creative sector for its failure to protect their works, Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) has intensified its anti-piracy drive, which has seen it confiscating gadgets across the country.
The copyright body’s licensing manager Mutty Munkhondia said Tuesday that they are trying their best to protect the works of artists in the country so that they benefit from their talents.
“We have intensified compliance and this is on both sides—fighting piracy which is illegal reproduction of works and payment of copyright licences by places like bars, hotels, copy shops, softcopy operators and many other players involved,” Munkhondia said.
He said, before undertaking operations, they have conducted awareness programmes and engaged players such as softcopy operators on the importance of respecting copyright and paying licence fees.
“This is an on-going process and things are now running smoothly because we are working hand in hand with Malawi Police Service. We actually have two police officers in each region as part of enforcement,” Munkhondia said.
Musician Tay Grin said during an international forum recently that artists deserve better and that they needed to earn more from their sweat.
With technology moving at a fast pace, piracy is now rampant, with people buying pirated copies and not original works.
In a related development, Cosoma has confiscated over 100 computers and gadgets used in piracy in Nkhotakota District.
This follows a three-day operation that Cosoma inspectors carried in the district recently targeting those selling other people’s artistic works without authorisation.
The operation saw Cosoma inspectors confiscating computers from Dwangwa, Liwaladzi and Nkhunga.
Cosoma Head of Licencing and Enforcement Officer responsible for Central Region Thomas Chibambo has since asked those interested in music selling and reproduction to get licenced with the copyright body to avoid being cornered.
“It is high time artists earned something from their works. They have complained for a long time that they are not being protected and, so, we will continue to confiscate gadgets,” Chibambo said.
According to Copyright Act 2016 Section 113 (1), any person who infringes any copyright commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to pay a fine of K5 million and to imprisonment for two years.
Section 113(2) also says that any person who, without the authorisation of the minister, imports, sells, offers or exposes for sale or distribution in Malawi any copy, commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of K10 million and to imprisonment for four years.