Piracy has become rampant in the country and not spared the publishing industry, which has since taken the first step in minimising its cases by agreeing that all its books should have holograms.
Book Publishers Association of Malawi (Cosoma) President Maureen Masamba said Wednesday the use of holograms was one of the steps in curbing piracy and that this means that any book that does not have a hologram was pirated.
“We cannot stop piracy outright but, still, more measures have to be put in place and holograms is the first step. We are working together in this fight with Cosoma, Malawi Union of Academic and Non Fiction Authors (Muana), Book Sellers Association of Malawi and Malawi Institute of Education, among others,” Masamba said.
She said they have a taskforce in place which will be organising anti-piracy activities.
“As I said earlier, this means any book that does not have a hologram is pirated and therefore proper action will be taken and this will make it easier in identifying genuine copies,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Education has written all schools and institutions, urging them to purchase books with Cosoma holograms.
In a letter dated March 24 2022 signed by Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa, the ministry says it has noted with concern that some schools and various institutions were purchasing pirated books and that these books are illegally reproduced and distributed by unauthorized and unscrupulous people without the consent of publishers contrary to the provisions of the Copyright Act of 2016.
The ministry further says in the statement that the danger of purchasing such publications among other things, was that they compromise on quality of paper, quality of picture, some pages are omitted or cut, loss of revenue to publishers and loss of revenue to the government since pirates do not pay taxes.
As one way of curbing this malpractice, the ministry and Cosoma have agreed that effective April 10 2022; all books sold in Malawi shall bear a Cosoma hologram.
“Books that do not bear the Cosoma hologram are counterfeits therefore should not be on the market. Schools and all institutions should not buy such publications,” reads the statement.
Cosoma Licensing Manager Mutty Munkhondia said the whole process follows a meeting the stakeholders in the publishing industry including Ministry of Education had with the copyright body in the fight against book piracy.
“The Ministry of Education is worried that its schools are being infested with pirated books most of which distort information. Cosoma as a regulator, we thought one remedy in fighting piracy was to make sure that we easily identify genuine copies and with holograms it becomes easy for consumers in purchasing products,” Munkhondia said.
He said this is one symbol they would be looking for and that they were happy that after stakeholders in the publishing industry agreed; Ministry of Education has endorsed it.