Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to obtain a music license?

If you play music in your business, or want to use music in the promotion of a product, you need clearance from the owners of that music to do so. COSOMA represents the rights of many owners of music and you should be able to get you the clearances you need. COSOMA provides copyright protection to Malawian, and the world’s music in an efficient manner.

Does it matter whose music I use, or how it is used?

COSOMA represents over 10 million songs and millions more sound recordings, if you are using music it is likely to be music in copyright and falls within COSOMA’s repertoire. If in doubt, please check with us. Irrespective of whether you play music via Radio or TV, a CD/DVD, a satellite delivered service or arrange live music performances, you will need a music license.

What is the cost of a license from COSOMA?

COSOMA’s License fees are reasonably priced. The cost is determined by the scope and nature of your use of music. Please visit our website at for the various price applications.

What is a public performance?

Music is regarded as being “performed in public” when it is played outside what is deemed to be a domestic circle or home life. This would include most music performances whether by Radios and TVs or via background music or concerts.

Do I need a COSOMA Licence if I use only TV or Radio, even for news, sports and talk channels?

Public performance includes music performed by playing Radio and TV channels, and may include copyright music heard as part of advertisements, theme songs and channel ‘identification’ music.  News, Sports and Talk channels normally include some music use.

What if my Employees bring in their own equipment? Do I still need a license?

The ownership of equipment does not affect the requirement for a Music Licence. The question is whether music is performed in public. If music is performed in public, a COSOMA music License will be required.  The premises owner or business owner is held legally liable for any unlicensed public performances of copyright music that take place on their premises.

What happens if I wasn’t aware of the requirement for a license.

As with any licence requirement, it is the responsibility of the music user to understand and meet any legal obligations. In Malawi, everyone is required to comply with the Malawi Copyright Law (as defined in the Copyright Act of 2016). If music is used in your premises, it is your responsibility to ensure that the correct licences are in place so that you and/or your employees/contractors working on your premises perform copyright music in public lawfully.

What if a person claiming to be from COSOMA wants access to my premises. How do I know they are from COSOMA?

COSOMA has received odd reports that some people not connected with our society have claimed to be from COSOMA in order to gain access to premises. Our officials often try to contact you in advance first and arranging an appointment. Where this is not possible, COSOMA staff members always carry Identification on them and you could also call and check any details through our Secretariat. If you have any concerns about the identity of anyone trying to gain entry to your premises, do not allow them access and call COSOMA Secretariat on +265 175148

I have already paid for the CD/DVD or Download

When you buy a CD/DVD or download etc., there is usually a disclaimer either on the product or in the terms of the download agreement advising that you aren’t purchasing the right to give a public performance, broadcast, communication or make any reproduction of the works. If you want to play music in your business, you must get the copyright owner’s permission. In most cases this takes the form of an annual COSOMA license.

I only play music from a foreign country, do I still need a license from GHAMRO?

Yes. COSOMA is part of a worldwide network of collecting societies which have reciprocal licensing arrangements. This allows COSOMA’s members rights to be administered all over the world, and the rights of foreign composers to be represented in Malawi by COSOMA.

COSOMA already charges Radio stations a licence to broadcast music, why is another fee payable?

Composers/Performers & Publishers/Producers have a number of separate rights under the Copyright Act to ensure that they receive a fair reward for the uses of their works. They have the right to authorize the broadcast of their music – hence the COSOMA license for Radio stations to broadcast copyright material – and, quite separately, the right to control the public performance and communication of their work by Radio, TV or other means. Premises playing copyright music by Radio or TV are giving a public performance and those who use music as caller or ring back tunes are authorizing a communication to the public. Both uses of music require a COSOMA license.

I pay a supplier for our music/music system e.t.c, why do I have to still pay COSOMA?

Most music content/system suppliers recognize the existence of the Copyright Act and that COSOMA fees are applicable for the use of their product/s in your business. Please note that the fees paid by you to your supplier/s are only in relation to the provision of their services, equipment or content- excluding the public performance or communication of music in your business. If you have been advised or believe that your content/system is free of any obligation to COSOMA please contact our office with further details and we will happily assist in clarifying the matter.

How is using a TV on my premises considered a performance of music?

All TV programming in Malawi whether Free-To-Air or subscription services (i.e. DSTV, GoTV etc.) contains copyright music. If your business uses a TV to play television broadcasts or DVDs then you are authorizing any music contained in the programming to be performed in your business.

How is COSOMA going to license all small businesses that play music?

COSOMA attempts to educate small businesses about copyright and license those playing music. Our approach is to provide relevant information to individual businesses, industry associations and small business groups. COSOMA’s aim is to simplify the areas of public performance and communication on copyright for those who use music.