Musician Patience Namadingo has faulted the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) for what he calls discrepancies in the way royalties for his songs are handled.
In a statement, the Mapulani hitmaker said he has several questions on how royalties and other services concerning his music are handled by the body.
“Some may think I just woke up today to make this claim. But to the contrary, it is something that I have reflected on for years. I have had conversations on the same with Cosoma, the latest being six months ago,” he said.
Namadingo wondered if at all musicians and other artists are being given a fair deal.
The artist said: “This is 2021 and we cannot be relying on an analogue system. People have said music does not pay, fine! But what we want is the truth. If my music has made K20 000, then bring that to me as per requirement.”
In his long Facebook post, Namadingo also questioned the method mobile phone operators use in calculating royalties for music used as caller tunes.
“One of the mandates of Cosoma is to protect us artists, but it appears we are being left to be exploited by the system. It is like anybody is free to do as they please. And Cosoma is left scot-free because it enjoys working with people who don’t question them,” he said.
Namadingo claimed that he is not a member of Cosoma and wondered how they transact on his behalf concerning caller tune payments.
But in a separate interview, Cosoma distribution officer Shadreck Kumtengo said Namadingo is a member of the copyright body.
“He has assigned his rights to us to manage his works,” he said.
According to Kumtengo, there are two scenarios where one can become a Cosoma member.
“After production of the works or songs, one can bring them here and register to become a member.
“Secondly, when Cosoma gets reports of songs which are not registered, we contact the owners if we know them. He was contacted in 2008 and made declarations about his songs and completed registration forms,” he said.
Kumtengo said one can also decide not to be a Cosoma member, but choose only to declare their works and get their royalties.
“We have his personal details in our system and if he was not a member, we would not be able to capture such information,” he said.
On issues of log sheets at radio stations, Kumtengo confirmed that they capture details of songs played.
“If he has not seen them, it is not proof that they don’t exist. We know that there have been concerns from different artists about them and it is for the same reason that Cosoma developed a tracking software to complement what the sheets capture,” he said.
Kumtengo also confirmed that the copyright body has an agreement with Airtel Malawi on payment of royalties for caller back tunes.
“This is the same way we deal with any other user like broadcasting stations. As for how, the users acquire the data, it’s not in our contract. Radio stations have their own ways to get the music likewise the telecom companies do for ringtones.
“Some get from content aggregators and these two have different contracts. If there’s any wrong doing, it has to be between the content aggregators and the owners of the music. Cosoma only makes sure that if a song is on a ringtone, then Airtel must pay royalty for it,” he said.
Kumtengo added that it is important to know that Cosoma is a collective management organisation which issues a blanket licence to a users of copyright works.
“That licence covers everything they are going to be using and pay a lumpsum which is given as royalties to artists,” explained Kumtengo.