The Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) has faulted local artists for reproducing foreign music without consent from the copyright owners.
The copyright body has however, defended radio stations and DJs for playing music which infringes on copyright laws, stating that it is not their responsibility to check whether the artist legally reproduced the music in question.
The country continues to be flooded with Chichewa versions of reproduced songs by international music stars. Some of the musicians that have fallen prey to this behaviour are Nigeria’s Iyanya through his hit Kukere, P Square and May D’s Chop My Money, Ice Prince and Brymo’s Oleku, among others.
has been re-done in Tonga by musicians K Bars, 2LLha and Tissy by replacing the English and Pidgin and calling it Odi Tazaku.
While Malawian copyright laws bar the reproduction of music without consent from the owner, it is silent about radio stations or broadcasters playing such music.
“The law speaks against reproducing music without consent from the owner. However, that does not mean that stolen music cannot find its way on radio stations because every musician claims ownership over it.
“It will be too much and impractical to expect DJs or presenters to check if what one musician is claiming that the reproduced song is theirs, meaning they got permission to do a different version of the hit,” explained Cosoma’s senior licensing officer Rosario Kamanga.
He said the role of Cosoma is to facilitate the process of acquiring reproduction rights on behalf of artists as rights holders.
“After that we take action on behalf of the artists. Of course, we have had songs in Malawi that have been reproduced illegally and we also act on them when we get a tip. But, of course, there is need for better mechanisms to get rid of this malpractice. We need softwares such as a sound identifier to ascertain and prove the ownership of songs. This will be a long-lasting solution,” he said.
Renowned MBC radio announcer Frank Kandu also believes it is not the responsibility of radios or presenters to prove if a reproduced song has the owner’s consent.
“What would be the responsibility of the copyright body if we start verifying if reproduced songs have been done with consent?” he wondered.
Despite Odi Tazaku gaining momentum on radio stations, efforts to trace the artists behind this rendition proved futile.