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Spotlight on Cosoma’s blank media levy package

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Chambo (right) receives a certificate from Usi

This week has been full of smiles for Lilongwe-based musicians Elias Samson Missi, popularly known as Atoht Manje, Kelly Kambwiri (Kell Kay) and Yamikani Chikwawe (Saint), who have dominated blank media levy for the period between July and December 2020.

With the creative industry being affected heavily by Covid, the blank media levy disbursement has come in at a good time to ease artists’ financial challenges.

But while some artists were receiving certificates for achieving the feat of hitting the K1 million mark and above, some artists were bemoaning the low amounts they had received.

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Questions have been raised by artists now and again on how Cosoma calculates or comes up with the amounts when it comes to royalties.

Last time gospel singer Princess Chitsulo hit at the copyright body for giving her a ‘smaller’ amount in ringtones.

“I think a lot needs to be done by Cosoma especially when it comes to these payments. For some of us, our songs were all over and have been copied only to receive peanuts,” one artist who did not want to be named said.

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The artist also claimed that some artists benefit a lot from the different royalties not because they have done better but because they are vocal.

“There are artists that give Cosoma a torrid time and to avoid them they are offered more when it comes to different royalties even when their songs have not made any impact,” the artist alleged.

A lot of stories have come out as regards royalties and the copyright body has had to defend itself during Annual General Meetings (AGMs.

The blank media levy list for the period between July and December 2020 has seen male artists dominating with no female acts in the top 15.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi also expressed concern with the absence of female acts on the list and called for support for female artists.

“This is worrisome, we have female artists who are doing well and they need support. We need to support these female artists for them to be at par with male counterparts and this also includes DJs who play songs,” Usi said.

Cosoma Head of Documentation and Distribution Shadrick Kumtengo presented an overview of blank media levy distribution during the disbursement on Monday at Lilongwe Hotel.

In his report, Kumtengo looked at main principles such as equal treatment, equality not equal to equal royalties and collective management.

According to him, royalty is a used based payment.

“For one to qualify to receive a royalty there has to be information of the works, usage evidence and payment by users,” Kumtengo said.

He said, using their distribution tools, they look at performance, returns based on log sheets, monitoring software reports and distribution software which uses a system known as Wipocos.

Some of the data sources and data collection streams they use as regards blank media levy include musical works (authors and performers), audiovisual (music videos and films) and literary works (authors and publishers).

“The data collection streams are softcopy whose frequency is daily – groups, mechanical (monthly), websites (top charts) and ringtones (quarterly).

On the distribution process, Kumtengo spoke about the definition of works and owners of rights and the Rendezvous technique which is convergence of documentation data with lists of works used or reproduced.

“In calculating the amount per work we go through this technical process and the aim is to determine the value to be attributed to each work. That value is the result of a fraction whose numerator is the sum charged for a showing or for a given period and whose denominator is the number of works disseminated or performed out of the total points or shares obtained,” Kumtengo said.

He also said that the distribution process also looks at distributable revenue by categories (usage pools), usage logging in each pool, logging records converted into credit points, calculation of value per credit point, allocation of credit to each work, allocation of credit to copyright owners based on division of shares and then making of payments to members.

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