Social media negatively affecting arts in Malawi -COSOMA

Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) says the emergence of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Whatsup in the communication world, has negatively affected operations of Malawi’s artistic work in various ways.

Top Malaiw singers Maskal producer Twin Beatz and Piksy
Top Malaiw singers Maskal producer Twin Beatz and Piksy

COSOMA Licensing Manager, Mutty Munkhondia, made the observation and expressed concern in Mzuzu Thursday after delivering a public lecture at Malawi Institute of Journalism-MIJ (Mzuzu campus) on Copyright Law.

Munkhondia said since internet came into limelight, people started sharing artistic work such as books, songs and videos anyhow; a development which he said is against the Copyright Law of the land.

“What used to be difficult in terms of piracy in the past has now become extremely simple to commit,” observed Munkhondia, observing that currently, almost each and every citizen has become a culprit of this offence.

Commenting on the matter, Chairperson for Musicians Association of Malawi- Northern Region Chapter Dytone Mbewe, who is also one of the musicians in the country, concurred with Munkhondia, saying social media has badly affected the music industry in the country as songs are shared among the people even before they go on the market.

“As musicians, we are losing a lot of money through social media because by the time our songs go on the market, you find that the songs have already been distributed among the people,” said Mbewe.

Giving an example of Kenya, Mbewe said in that country, musicians do not lose money through social media as is the case in Malawi because people access songs through purchase of musical cards as we do with airtime for mobile phones.

“I would love if COSOMA and MAM introduced this in Malawi because the money will be going straight into our (bank) accounts as musicians,” said Mbewe.

However, Munkhondia said the problem that artistic work faces now emanates from inadequacies in the country’s Copyright Law which was enacted in 1989. He observed that a number of things need to be amended in order for the law to suit the current technology.

“Our law lacks in many areas because what it was focusing on then was physical distribution or problems, but now with the coming in of fibre space, our law lacks a lot in such areas,” added Munkhondia.

He then disclosed the Copyright Law went under review recently by considering all internet treaties across the globe in preparation for its submission to Parliament for approval.

Among other things, the Copyright Law prohibits the reproduction, broadcasting, public performance, distribution and translation of somebody`s work without permission.

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