By Sam Banda Jnr And Wezzie Nkhoma-Somba:
Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) has taken a new direction in collection of broadcast royalties by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra).
Cosoma and Macra signed the agreement on Monday in Blantyre.
The copyright body’s executive director, Dora Makwinja, confirmed the development, the MoU saying it is very important and beneficial to the creative industry.
“The MoU is going to give us access to data or information on musical works that are played on different radio and television stations,” Makwinja said.
She said Cosoma’s mandate involves licensing and broadcasting organisations and other users and in return they pay license fees which is distributed in form of royalties.
“But for us to be able to make the distribution, we need information on the works that are played—, that is, copyright works —and for some time we have relied on information written down by producers or reporters of different programmes,” Makwinja said.
She said with the MoU, they are going to get data directly for all radio stations on one point from Macra.
“We are very happy that this has happened at long last, we will have 100 percent access to the data, not only musical works but other copyright works. This is beneficial and important to the creative industry,” Makwinja said.
Asked why it took them such a long time to break this deal with Macra, Makwinja said:
“We discussed and the proposal had to be agreed upon. We started this two years ago but it has only materialised now and so we are happy with the development”.
Macra Director, General, Godfrey Itaye, said the importance of the broadcasting and communication sector in the country is evidenced by the number of activities that take place in radio stations and telecentres.
“It is therefore for this reason that Cosoma requires a vibrant monitoring system to ensure proper collection and distribution of royalties to players in the industry,” Itaye said.
He said this can be achieved through enforcement of regulations and that, using their volicon system, they will monitor all programming by broadcasters.
Musicians Union of Malawi President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango welcomed the development Tuesday.
“This is a serious move and very welcome and we have waited for it for a long time. This will help clear all the noise on how broadcast royalties are distributed. I would like to thank Cosoma for adhering to our cry and taking such as step,” Mhango said.
In a related development, Makwinja has said Cosoma is also going to start collecting levies on blank media devices and that they will be working with Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
“A levy is going to be charged on all blank media devices such as flash disks, CDs or DVDs, and this is a new aspect to our activities. This is to compensate artists. Flash disks enter into the country and people make copies and nothing goes back to artists,” she said