Copyright Society of Malawi teething over foreign Chichewa-translated movies

Days for foreign-Chichewa translated movies are numbered following decision by Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) to outlaw the practice.

The country for the past six months or so has witnessed a flood of international movies which are translated into Chichewa.

Most of the movies that have been translated into the vernacular language are Chinese films such as Iron Monkey, IP Man, Bruce Lee and Jack Chan movies, Jet Li’s Tai Chi, Born to Fight, OKG Bak among others.

The trend, spreading swiftly like bird flue, has not left out American and Nigerian made movies, which include S.W.A.T, Rambo, Predator, Aki Na Ukwa, Dad Must Obey, Deadly Play, Mr. Ibu, Ukwa and others.

However, exciting the movies might be-though, the translation is not usually literal translation of actual scripts-Cosoma has described the development as total violation of copyright laws, arguing it is not authorised business.

Cosoma’s Senior Licensing Officer, Roserio Kamanga said in an interview, the translation of international movies without authorisation is illegal as it infringes on someone’s copyright rights.

“Firstly one has to have a licence from Cosoma in order to conduct such business of translating someone’s work in any language, and it is by copyright laws that one has to seek permission from the author/producer of the said production before actually carrying the translation.

“On top of that the translation has to be always a literal meaning of what was said in the original versions in order to convey the same message the creator intended to put across. In current case, the Chichewarised movies are not pure translation of the original scripts, which is against the copyright laws,” Kamanga said.

Kamanga said currently Cosoma was considering taking action against all those illegally making-a-kill by translating or reproducing foreign movies to Chichewa thereby claiming to own copyrights.

“There are some institutions which were licensed to conduct such works, but most of those reproducing these Chichewarised movies, I don’t think have authorisation from Cosoma. The current trend is killing the creativity and promotes laziness on part of those who would have otherwise put their talent into better use,” he said.

The translated movies are currently making waves in townships and rural areas, as most video showrooms have adopted it as a trend to feature a Chinese, Nigerian or American Chichewarised movie on its daily menu.

Such movies have become darling of both young and old, and with Malawi’s movie industry still at its infancy stage, it is of no surprise that Chichewarised movies have become a common feature, as the local populace found solace in them for the obscene of locally made films.

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