Understanding How Blank Media Levy Works for Artists

One topic of interest that continues to be debated by many is that of blank media levy in regards to artists receiving payments from it.

Let’s start with a definition of blank media levy, also known as a private copying levy or blank tape tax, as a mechanism designed to compensate artists and rights holders for potential copyright infringement when consumers make copies of copyrighted content for personal use. The levy is typically applied to blank media devices such as blank CDs, DVDs, or other recording media that can be used to duplicate copyrighted material.

The concept behind a blank media levy is rooted in the recognition that individuals may use blank media to create copies of copyrighted works for their personal enjoyment, such as making mixtapes or burning CDs.

Since it’s challenging to track and enforce copyrights on these personal copies, a levy is imposed on the sale of blank media as a form of compensation for artists and rights holders.

Here’s how it generally works:

Imposition of Levy: Governments or relevant copyright authorities may impose a small fee on the sale of blank media. This fee is intended to compensate creators for the potential loss of revenue resulting from the private copying of their works.

Collection: The collected levy is usually managed by a collecting society or a designated organization responsible for distributing royalties to artists, songwriters, and other rights holders; in Malawi’s case, Cosoma.

Distribution: The collected funds are then distributed by Cosoma among rights holders based on various factors, such as the popularity of the work, the sales of blank media, or predefined royalty distribution models.

Purpose: The purpose of the blank media levy is to strike a balance between the rights of consumers to make personal copies for non-commercial use and the need to compensate creators for potential income loss due to these copies.

It’s worth noting that the effectiveness and fairness of blank media levies have been the subject of ongoing debate – we will tackle this discussion in another article.

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Some argue that such levies are outdated or unfairly penalize consumers who use blank media for legitimate purposes, while others contend that they provide a practical solution for compensating rights holders in an era where personal copying is widespread.

The application and specifics of blank media levies can vary between countries, depending on local copyright laws and regulations. It would be interesting to learn how Cosoma calculates its black media levy.

What do you think about the use & importance of blank media levy in Malawi?

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