August 3, 2016 — Last month, Malawi’s parliament approved a new copyright bill for the country. The Bill was originally drafted 5 years ago with the idea that the Copyright Act of 1989 did not account for many of the changes in technology. It covers all aspects of creative works including literary, dramatic and musical, live performances, audio visuals, broadcast, typographical arrangements and expressions of folklore.
The Bill seeks to curb the unauthorised use of music that results in substantial revenue losses for the local music industry. It also seeks to provide a framework for the increased promotion and development of Malawi’s culture through the provision of incentives such as a cultural fund to promote arts development and levies on blank recording media (such as CDRs).
The decision of Parliament to approve the Bill was welcome by many local musicians in the country.
Speaking about the new Bill, Sports and Culture Minister Grace Chiumia stated that persons found guilty of copyright infringement will be forced to pay hefty fines, adding that this will help to protect Malawian artists and enable them to earn a living from their work.
It also aims to increase and enforce fines and penalties for copyright infringement. The protection of creators’ rights against the illegal use of works in the digital environment will also be broadened. The income base for authors will be widened through expanded licensing areas – including ringtones, downloads and internet broadcasting, which can lead to increased revenue for the creators.
If signed into law by the country’s president Peter Mutharika, the Bill is expected to benefit artists by better protecting their works.
Source: Edwin Mauluka Today