In an apparent bid to protect the creative industry faced with a proliferation of music websites where people download creative works such as music for free, government has introduced a levy on all storage devices.
The Private Copy Levy will be enforced from April 15 by the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) and the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
Cosoma senior licensing officer Rosario Kamanga said this is in line with a provision in the Copyright Act which makes it obligatory for manufacturers and importers to pay a levy on media and equipment used for copying and reproduction of copyright protected material.
“The money to be collected will be dispensed according to already set international distribution rules and it will go to the likes of composer, author and producer,” he said.
Kamanga highlighted that all member countries of the European Union have the levy in their legislation.
The levy is expected to save musicians who have continued to cry foul over the levels of piracy in the country despite existence of the Copyright Act of 2016.
According to a public notice published in Weekend Nation on March 23, the levy will be charged on purchases of recordable media as compensation to the rights holders for loss of income due to copyright infringements.
“As a tax administration, MRA, will be charging and collecting the levy on importation of media storage devices through its Customs and Excise Division,” it reads.
The notice further said that the levy will be charged and collected on importation of items such as audio and video cassettes, compact discs (CDs), modulator, MP3 player, Blu-Ray, USB flash disc and Sim card.
Others are cellular telephones with storage and reproducing capacities, personal computers not exceeding 30kg, photocopier, printer, scanner camcorder, digital camera, external hard drive and radio and television sets enabling recordings.