Dora Salamba: Aspects of Piracy Facing Malawi’s Copyright Society

In News by Porter AndersonLeave a Comment

The head of Malawi’s copyright agency says the public doesn’t understand the damages that piracy can do to rights holders.

Dora Susan Salamba-Makwinja. Image: Copyright Society of Malawi

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘The Public Lacks Knowledge” of Piracy’s Damages
The Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) functions as a collective management organization (a CMO) and also as a copyright office.

Based in Lilongwe, it has as its first-listed effort, “To promote and protect the interests of authors, performers, translators, producers of sound recordings, broadcasters, publishers, and in particular, to collect and distribute any royalties or other remuneration accruing to rights holders in respect of their rights provided for in the copyright act, 2016.”

The copyright office function is based, in part, on COSOMA’s work in “maintaining registers of works, productions, and associations of authors, performers, translators, producers of sound recordings, broadcasters, and publishers.”

Click here to download a free copy of our special “Africa Rising” edition published in print for delegates to the 2019 IPA Africa Seminar in Nairobi.

In addition, the broad portfolio of this agency includes a charge to handle many aspects of a nation’s copyright life, including “establishing and maintaining close and continuous working relationships with national, regional, and international organizations or institutions whose objectives are similar to those of the society, and negotiate bilateral agreements with collecting societies abroad, in particular as regards use that may be subject to an extended collective licence.”

So it is that the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA)  “Africa Rising” seminar in Nairobi, hosted by the  Kenya Publishers Association, will feature Dora Susan Salamba-Makwinja, the executive director of COSOMA on its June 14 panel focused on issues in copyright protection and the threat of piracy in African markets.

In addition to Salamba, this panel is to feature:

  • Maha Bakheet. director of the Intellectual Property (IP) and Competitiveness Department for the Arab League, based in Cairo (our interview with Bakheet is here)
  • Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi, copyright administrator with Botswana’s Companies and Intellectual Property Authority
  • Edward Sigei, executive director of the Kenya Copyright Board
  • Moderator José Borghino, IPA secretary general

Our exchange with Salamba about factors of copyright concerns in Malawi started by asking how much the piracy so frequently heard in copyright discussions about African markets figures into her agency’s work. Many working in publishing’s Western markets will recognize the struggle of scarcity vs. abundance that so frequently is integral to issues of piracy: many people will steal what they can’t find for sale.

A ‘Growing Trend’ in Digital Piracy

Dora Salamba: Piracy has been a major concern for us—in particular the piracy of music, although of late we’ve also witnessed an increase in piracy of books.

Largely, the increased piracy levels for music are based on the fact that as a country we don’t have a major record company that operates to supply legitimate products. That leads to scarcity of such products on the market. So people resort to illegal reproduction since they can’t easily find find a legitimate product on the market.

For books, normally in tertiary institutions, we still have books of foreign authors and these are expensive and not easily affordable for an average Malawian. In the end, books are illegally reproduced and distributed among students or, indeed, lecturers.

As a country, Malawi is still facing  challenges with piracy in physical copies. However, recently we’ve also witnessed a growing trend of piracy as a result of the Internet and digital technology in general. There’s a lot of unauthorized sharing of copyrighted works over social media platforms, that this presents a lot of challenges in  how such piracy can be effectively dealt with.

Publishing Perspectives: In books, which sector do you find is most frequently pirated?

DS: In books, it’s educational materials.

PP: What specific measures is your copyright society able to take that help—or may help in the future—to curb piracy?

“We introduced a hologram some time back to curb piracy of music, and it worked very well. We’ve now extended the application of the hologram to books.”Dora Salamba, Copyright Society of Malawi

DS: We introduced a hologram some time back to curb piracy of music, and it worked very well. We’ve now extended the application of the hologram to books. So our local book publishers and booksellers are encouraged to use the hologram as one way of curbing piracy.

Secondly, our current copyright act of 2016 has taken into account a number of provisions that enable the protection of copyrighted works in the digital environment in line with the WCT [World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty] and WPPT [World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty].

Thirdly, we’ve introduced a private copy levy as one way of compensating rights holders for loss of income through unauthorized reproduction and distribution of such works through storage and copying devices such as photocopiers.

PP: How much support do you find you get from public and governmental entities with the problem?

DS: Well, not much support from the public, and perhaps because much of the general public lacks knowledge or has an inadequate understanding of the importance of respecting the rights of creative people.

However, we’ve been working with the police in enforcing the law. And our judiciary has been very supportive in seeing that our cases that have gone into court have been quickly concluded.

PP: And what will be your key message in Nairobi when you’re part of this discussion on Friday?

DS: The importance of involving our rights holders in fighting piracy.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the International Publishers Association is here, more from us on its ‘Africa Rising’ Nairobi seminar is here, and more on African publishing markets and issues is here. More from us on copyright issues is here.

Our special magazine for the International Publishers Association’s (IPA) “Rising Africa” 2019 seminar has been printed by Modern Lithographic Kenya and is being provided in print to delegates as the conference convenes on June 14 and 15 in Nairobi.

We hope you’ll download a free copy here in PDF and join us in welcoming the second annual IPA Africa Seminars event, an important new series in world publishing.

In this new magazine, you’ll find commentary from the IPA leadership, from key stakeholders in the 2018 seminar at Lagos produced with the Nigerian Publishers Association, and from our hosts at this year’s event produced in cooperation with the Kenya Publishers Association. There also are insights from speakers in this week’s program and background coverage on publishing in Africa from Publishing Perspectives.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

Leave a Comment