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MBC terminates copyright agreement with Cosoma

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George Kasakula

Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has terminated its copyright pact with Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) after the two parties failed to come to terms during negotiations.

Cosoma confirmed the development on Tuesday, saying the development means that the State-run broadcaster which contributes a huge share of money to broadcast royalties, has resolved to stop using music in its broadcasts in all its platforms affective February 19 2023.

The copyright body’s licencing manager Mutty Munkhondia said Wednesday that Cosoma, which was formed in 1992 by the government with the mandate of promoting and protecting creativity in the country, grants authorisation for use of copyright works such as music in broadcasts.

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“All broadcasting stations in Malawi are supposed to acquire a licence from Cosoma as an authorisation for use of such works in their daily broadcasts.

“Cosoma is guided by copyright broadcasting tariffs in determining how much each station pays and MBC has had an agreement with us for use of music in their broadcasts for the past 30 years,” Munkhondia said.

He said Cosoma, through acquisition of rights from the copyright holders, authorises (offers licences) to broadcasting stations for use of copyright works such as music in their daily broadcasts.

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“This is voluntary. All stations that see value in use of such works in their broadcasts take a licence, and this is exactly what the previous administration of MBC did. But the new management looks like they do not really see value for money in using music in its broadcasts and, as such, we respect their decision to terminate the agreement,” Munkhondia said.

He further said that a broadcasting station is free to get a copyright licence.

However, Munkhondia said it was worth noting that it is a copyright infringement under Copyright Law (both criminal as well as civil) to broadcast copyright works like music without authorisation (licence).

He said that music as content (resource) for broadcasting worldwide has a very big value.

“Those that wish to use it must be prepared to pay for it and, so, this means that from 19th February 2023, MBC will not be allowed to broadcast music in all its stations as Cosoma represents both and the termination includes all of them,” Munkhondia.

He said they have engaged with MBC more than five times until they decided to terminate the agreement.

But MBC Director General George Kasakula said on Tuesday that they were of the view that the contract is being executed in a way that is detrimental to the State broadcaster.

“We are the huge contributor of broadcast royalties and we are the only station that has been paying on time and, we are the only station that has an agreement and, so, it is unfair on our side to be paying more than anybody else. We want fair and legal way for paying for copyright and this does not mean that we do not want to pay,” Kasakula said.

He said they want to sit down with Cosoma and agree on a legal and fair way as well as revisit the agreement.

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