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Covid-19 freezes Cosoma annual activities

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April 23 every year is World Book and Copyright Day and this year it falls tomorrow. The day has in the past years seen different players including Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma), Pen Malawi and Book Publishers Association of Malawi (Bpam) among others, joining the rest of the world in celebrating the day with activities.

But this year with Covid-19 affecting lots of events, there will be no activities. Ahead of the day tomorrow, Cosoma has since said that copyright is important in that it guarantees ownership of rights to the owners of works, and that owners of the works enjoy the fruits of their works.

“At the same time ensures that the public enjoys the creative works. The whole purpose of copyright is to ensure that there is a balance between owners of rights and users of such works,” Cosoma Executive Director Dora Makwinja, said Tuesday.

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Makwinja called upon Malawians to support creative works and avoid buying pirated materials. “Piracy robs creators of the income that they would have rightfully earned,” she said. Artists have complained of piracy with many failing to benefit from their sweat.

Makwinja said artists need to be aware of copyright issues to avoid being robbed of their income.

“Their works constitute intellectual property which needs to be respected. They should therefore avoid unlimited sharing of their works through social media which encourage piracy,” she said.

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Makwinja said Cosoma was trying to fight piracy in order to make sure that artists get what they deserve.

Piracy has forced some of the artists to stop producing works while some artists have gone on to embrace online, many artists still depend on sales from their works.

With piracy hitting hard on artists, many of them are relying heavily on live shows which are currently not taking place due to a ban on public gatherings due to Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Pen Malawi President Alfred Msadala, said Tuesday it was joining the rest of the world in commemorating the World Book and Copyright Day Thursday.

“Because of Covid-19, the organisation is unable to meet since we are observing the recommended disciplines of behavior,” Msadala said.

He said the International Pen office in London, United Kingdom was also temporarily closed and that employees were working from home. The World Book and Copyright Day also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Day was established by Unesco to promote reading, publishing and copyright.

The story behind the choice of the day is connected to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a Spanish famed author of Don Quixote, who died on April 23, 1616.

Msadala said in the contemporary period, they celebrate the day in two ways, to remember all fallen writers and to buy a book as a gift to a friend and that the friend could be a spouse, son, cousin, mother, neighbor and pastor among others. He said it was for this reason that Pen Malawi was urging all Malawians to commemorate the day as they sit at home.

“We can still buy and send books as gifts to colleagues during this time because bookshops are still open or we can get them direct from the publishers. And at the same time, let us remember our fellow Malawian writers, who have demised,” Msadala said.

Some of the fallen writers Msadala mentioned include Edison Mpina, Zangaphee Chizeze, Steve Chimombo, Anthony Nazombe, Legison Kayira, DD Phiri, Tito Banda, Dede Kamkondo, Enoch Timpunza Mvula, Jolly Max Ntaba, Aubrey Kalitera, Ken Kalonde, Du Chisiza Jr, Chris Kamlongera, Sam Mpasu, David Rubadiri, Nixon Mindano, Whytone Kamthunzi and E. Chadza.

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