Cosota on site for unfair distribution of royalties

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By The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. The Creative Industry Network Tanzania (CINT), in partnership with Twaweza, has called on the government and the Copyright Society of Tanzania (Cosota) to review the approach to distributing royalties to artists.

They say the recent distribution of royalties excluded many groups of artists, lacked transparency and fell short of the legal threshold.

“There is no transparency regarding the collection and distribution of royalties. This means that creators of copyrighted works have no way of understanding how COSOTA collects and distributes money on their behalf. This leads to a breakdown of trust and can create conflict within the sector.

This follows the recent distribution of royalties which were collected from seven radio stations by the Copyright Society of Tanzania (Cosota) on January 28.

According to a statement issued on February 19, Cosota distributed royalties worth 312 million shillings to 1,123 artists for 5,924 musical works covering the collection period from July to November 2021.

“However, this distribution violated both the spirit and the letter of the law in a number of key areas,” read a joint statement released in collaboration between the artists and Twaweza.

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Due to the loopholes, CINT called on the government and Cosota to urgently review the royalty distribution process to help the creative industries in Tanzania grow.

They highlighted issues such as the distribution of royalties collected between January 2019 and June 2021, but the royalties were last distributed in August 2019 covering the period until the end of 2018, but Cosota is bound by the law to distribute the royalties at least once a year.

“In the royalty distribution announcement in January 2022, no mention was made of royalties collected between 2019 and 2021 and these royalties were not distributed,” the statement read.

Artists also noted that in 2019 and 2022, royalties were only paid to musicians, but that Cosota is responsible for all artists and creators of copyrighted works, including movies, software, visual arts, architecture and writers.

They also note that royalties were distributed to a sample of musicians, but copyright and related rights law requires Cosota to distribute royalties based on track records.

These, they said, should be collected nationwide from a range of users of creative works.

However, in their announcement, Cosota said they used radio logs for some musicians as a sample for distribution.

“It is discriminatory, against the law and unclear because there is no way of knowing how Cosota decided which royalties to distribute to whom.”

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