Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Cancels Copyright Agreement with COSOMA: How Royalty Collecting Societies Work with Broadcasters Worldwide

The state broadcaster of Malawi, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), has decided to terminate its long-standing copyright agreement with the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma). As of February 19, 2023, the MBC has resolved to stop using music on its broadcast platforms.

Cosoma, through the acquisition of rights from copyright holders, authorizes licenses to broadcasting stations for the use of copyright works such as music in their daily broadcasts. This is a common practice worldwide, where royalty collecting societies work with broadcasters to ensure that copyright holders are fairly compensated for the use of their works. These societies, such as Cosoma, act as intermediaries between copyright holders and broadcasters, providing licenses for the use of copyrighted works and collecting royalties on behalf of copyright holders.

However, MBC Director General George Kasakula has stated that the broadcaster will continue to use music, both local and international, on its platforms. The MBC has written to Cosoma, requesting that they revisit the agreement in order to come to a legal and fair way forward. The MBC wants to be treated as fairly as anyone else in regards to payment for copyright.

Licensing manager, Mutty Munkhondia of Cosoma, stated that all stations that see value in use of such works in their broadcasts take a license, but MBC, which contributes more money through royalties and has had an agreement with the society for the past 30 years, has decided to terminate it. He added that typically, broadcasters who see value in using copyrighted works in their broadcasts, take a license from the copyright collecting societies, regardless of the size of the broadcaster and the cost of the license.

In conclusion, this situation highlights the ongoing debate over the fair compensation of copyright holders and the role of royalty collecting societies in facilitating this process. As MBC and Cosoma work to come to a new agreement, it will be important for both parties to consider the rights of copyright holders and the value of copyrighted works to broadcasters in order to find a fair and legal way forward.