One of Malawi’s leading musicians, Lucius Banda, complained bitterly about government’s failure to help in reducing piracy. There is nothing new. Musicians have on a number of occassions complained that they are being ripped off by piracy since the dawn of multiparty politics. But government has done nothing to help them.
Musicians have also complained that Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) is not doing enough to curb piracy and have even shifted the blame on music lovers who buy pirated music. Cosoma has often said that they do not have enough resources to let them run the anti-piracy campaign. Music lovers buy pirated music because it is cheaper than the original music.
There are a number of reasons why piracy has refused to die. However, it is slowing the growth of the industry. Although it has been visible for decades, the industry does not seem to grow as expected.
Original music is expensive as compared to pirated music. The culprits make their products cheap since their overhead cost are minimal. Therefore, to beat piracy original music has to be cheap as well.
The only way government can help musicians cut costs of production is by reducing taxes on compact discs (CDs). This low cost will trickle down to the consumer who is the local music lover. At the end of the day original music will be sold close to the price of pirated music.
Some musicians put on the market poor quality music which even when pirated no-one can notice the difference. In some cases, one cannot differenciate original from pirated CDs because the printing of the inlays and the surface is very bad.
Poor distribution network is another reason pirated music finds itself on the market. There are some areas in the country where musicians forget or ignore when they are distributing their music. Pirates target these areas knowing that these neglected people would buy regardless of quality. This is mainly because there are no record companies that can distribute music.
In most cases, by the time the musician releases his or her album, he or she has no money for distribution. The remedy to this could be to come up with a joint distribution mechanism by various musicians to reach even the remotest areas. Musician Association of Malawi (MAM) is best placed to co-ordinate such arrangements.
Just like any other citzen of this land, musician’s propety must be protected by the State. Music is a musician’s intellectual property, hence; needs to be protected.
Cosoma needs money to pay police officers who will be with them when they go about looking for offenders and to hire a good lawyer so that the pirate should get the toughest sentence possible.There are a lot of expenses that are attached to the fight against piracy which has to be provided by the government.
As a nation we are killing talent as it buds. There have been people who have said that Malawi music can be exported. Yes, the music is being exported by pirates and owners do not benefit.
Government must be vigilant in this fight. It is a cancer that is eating our musicians and financially killing them. This fight has to be treated as an emergency. Musicians too need to be militant to fight the fight that will protect their intellectual property.