The celebrated Malawian Afro-R&B singer Mayise Kasaru, popularly known by his show business name Maskal, calls piracy an evil that is hindering the growth of Malawi’s music industry.
In an effort to tackle the problem, the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) has introduced stickers for music distributors to paste on all original CDs.
But Maskal says some people are duplicating the stickers and pasting them on pirated CDs. He says the development has harmed the sales of his music.
In response, he and a few other local artists are selling their CDs themselves.
“I have been trying to sell my music myself but this is not helping. For example now people [are selling a CD of my music] on the market. In it, he says they have also included other songs like [those by musicians] Pisky and Armstrong,” he says.
The musician, who is a member of COSOMA, says the copyright watchdog organization is failing to protect the musicians from piracy.
“I am blaming COSOMA because they don’t care about artists’ welfare. Each and every year they take money from artists but each and every day we see vendors outside there, selling music [illegally with] stickers on the CDs.
“Where do the stickers come from and what are they doing about it? [It’s] killing music,” he asks. He says the group needs to produce stickers that can not be copied.
Licensing officer for COSOMA Rosario Kamanga told a local daily The Nation media that the organization has cracked down on pirated CDs and their venders.
“For example, recently we confiscated and burned 50,000 copies. These are just part of those we have at our offices,” he said.
Rosario however said even musicians who sell own music without the stickers are flouting COSOMA’s regulations and would be taken to court.
But Maskal challenges this.
“[The COSOMA contracts says] they will protect our record sales, but now that they are failing to meet their obligations, you need to cancel the contract. It’s like that everywhere. If they go to court, they can’t win. How they can arrest someone selling their own music?”
Despite the problem, Maskal say he is determined to succeed in the music industry.
“In five-year’s time I would like to be like these big African artists like Selif Keita, Oliver Mtukudzi and all those that are doing well in their own countries. Nothing can stop me.”