Malawiâ€™s arts industry has grown tremendously throughout the years. The boom of recording studios has made it easy for artists to record their music, videos and other art forms. Technology has come with the ease of storage of material in many formats and removed the difficulty of sharing and distributing. Technology has also made it easy to produce songs, videos and make CDs and DVDs.
But while technology has been a stimulus to the production and distribution of art, it has also made it easy for pirates to replicate and distribute artistsâ€™ works.
Malawi is not the only country that has fallen prey to piracyâ€”artists from all corners of the globe are affected and are working tirelessly to curb the malpractice.
Twenty-eight percent of Internet users globally access unauthorised services on a monthly basis, according to International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organisation that represents interests of the recording industry worldwide. About half of these are using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. The other half is using other non-P2P unauthorised channels which are a fast-growing problem.
Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) is a body working together with artists of various disciplines in an effort to put an end to piracy.
In interview with Society Cosoma senior licencing officer Rosario Kamanga said his organisation does not have exact figures on how much revenue is lost through the practice since there has never been any survey on the subject.
There are a number of initiatives that Cosoma has put in place to end piracy. The association patrols and confiscates pirated materials.
â€œWe have just recently confiscated materials worth about K3 million (about $10 000)Â from pirates based at Mchesi Township in Lilongwe,â€ said Kamanga.
The association is currently running a cultural support scheme which is a grant facility from the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The scheme has been running for six years and it is in its third phase. The facility provides grants to stakeholder associations to help them with capacity building.
Some of the associations that have so far benefited from the scheme include Photographers Association of Malawi (Photama),Visual Arts Association (VAA), National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam), Malawi Writers Union (Mawu), Malawi Folk Music and Dance Association, (MFODMAS), Poets Association of Malawi (PAM), and Journalists Union of Malawi (Juma).
This year, Cosoma has introduced Bwalo la a Luso Festival.
â€œAfter the capacity building, artists need to showcase their talents; hence, we came up with Bwalo la a Luso Festival. The festival is an initiative that will help in the fight piracy because there will be capacity building and anti-piracy carnival. We expect that the anti-piracy carnival to help sensitise people on the malpractice,â€ said Kamanga.
â€œAlthough we work together with artists, individually each artist has a responsibility to fight piracy,â€ he added.