Up to 20 computers belonging to people who upload artistic works, including music and poetry, on their machines for commercial purposes, but duck their responsibility of paying a K50 000 annual licence fee were impounded in Kasungu on Friday.
Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) officials and the police swooped on the illegal businesspersons in a surprise joint operation that combed business centres in Kasungu Municipality and surrounding satellite business centres of Santhe, Nkhamenya and Chikhoma.
Cosoma senior licencing officer Rosario Kamanga said such illegal downloads enable computer owners to make soft-copy transfers of the artistic works to memory sticks, which they sell to customers.
He said several of the concerned computer owners later redeemed their machines, while the others were to follow suit, in the realisation that their businesses would be crippled without the computers.
“The sweeping exercises are ongoing and we will target other urban and rural areas, to try and prevent people from capitalising on the creativity and sweat of the artists, particularly local musicians, through the unlicenced data transfers,” Kasungu Police Station deputy publicist Harry Namwaza stated.
Under the Copyright Law, creators of artistic works , including authors and stage artists—are prime owners of their works and have the power and right to authorise the use, distribution and the reproduction of their products.
But due to difficulties the creators have had in overseeing and protecting their talents, these creators tap into Cosoma’s nation-wide outreach services and gave the national body the mandate to carry out various oversight roles, including compliance.
One strategy Cosoma put in place in support of the local creators is its recent introduction of the K50 000 annual licence fee that needs to be paid by every person who uploads the artistic works for financial gains.