“More Money, Less Talk”: Duma FM instructed to pay COSBOTS

  • “The court has through the decision of the esteemed justices provided the Society with teeth”
  • Decision helps COSBOTS roll out its 7th distribution operation


Duma FM has lost a case in which it was appealing a High Court ruling that directed it to pay the Copyrights Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) royalties it owed artists.
Last year, Justice Leatile Dambe ordered the popular radio station, which prides itself on supporting local music, to pay COSBOTS P620 000 and the cost of the lawsuit, a sum that was later amended to P590 000 (appox). However, the broadcaster proceeded appeal although unsuccessfully as the Court of Appeal (CoA) recently ruled in favour of the society.
Duma’s affidavit resisting summary judgement was that the computation of royalties owed are unlawful and invalid since they are not in accordance with international standards. The station argued that the ceiling tariff rate of 12% of gross annual revenue was higher than international tarrif rates  which are not over 6% in most developed countries.
However, the High Court dismissed Duma’s claim and expressed strong dismissal dissaproval of their reliance on the position of South Africa’s tariffs which should not be applied in  Botswana. The court ordered the station to pay because it was the law.
COSBOTS Communications Manager Seeletso Lekgaba who welcomed the ruling said it came at a critical point where the collections society is struggling to distribute royalties. “This particular case sends a stern message to errant users that continuously fail to comply to provisions of the act. This list of users includes DJs, promoters, broadcasters, retail outlets among others. In the same vein, the court has through the decision of the esteemed justices provided the Society with teeth.”
Moreover, Lekgaba says the successful litigation against Duma FM has strengthened the resolve of COSBOTS to pay royalties to its members as they rolled out the 7th distribution operation last week. When asked to disclose who the highest paid artist was Lekgaba said she could not disclose the information.
In order to ensure that all income is included in future distributions- the board, management and all staff of COSBOTS have called upon all rights holders with works on the musical platform to continue declaring their works to ensure that works are adequately documented. Lekgaba says such documentation serves as a basis for distribution works to be undertaken by the CMO, “In this regard, COSBOTS has committed to taking definitive action in creating a sustainable creative industry by ensuring that its members derive maximum benefit whenever entities and individual use their works and are licensed to exploit these works.”