What is COSBOTS?

COSBOTS means Copyright Society of Botswana. It is a company limited by guarantee and incorporated under the laws of Botswana as a not-for-profit company. It was established as the sole Collective Management Organization (CMO) that represents all various categories of works protected under the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act CAP 68:02. So far COSBOTS started with music and is still in process of finalizing the non-music works rules and regulations which are approved by the regulator, Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA)

Why do I need a COSBOTS licence?

Intellectual property such as Music like your land, car, mobile phone, etc. is property. It is regarded as Intellectual Property under the law. Just like you will need the permission or authorization of the owner of a property to use his/her property, you are equally required by law to seek the permission or authorization of the owner of the music before you can use his/her in a public or commercial environment. When music is therefore performed or used in a public or commercial space, a music copyright license is required. Song writers, composers, performers, publishers and owners of sound recording are entitled to compensations when their works (music) are performed or used in a public or commercial space – it supports their livelihood and enables them to keep producing the good and sweet music that supports many businesses. It is impracticable and near impossible for owners of copyright to monitor the various uses of their works and to license them adequately.

It is also impracticable and near impossible for users of music to locate all owners of copyright and negotiate with them. COSBOTS simplifies this complex process through its collective management of copyright. Without the COSBOTS license, businesses and facilities that use music in public or commercial space would have to negotiate with every individual songwriter, composer, performer and publisher across the country and beyond for every piece of music they intend to use. Your guess is as good as mine, the cost would be astronomical.

How are license fees determined?

The cost of music copyright licence depends on various factors: the nature and extent to which is used, and how many people are exposed to it, the value of music to the trade or business, the monetary advantage obtained from the use of the music, the type of premises, the size of the premises, the type of trade or business, etc. It is worthy of note that COSBOTS tariffs are regulated by the Copyright Office, under Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA).

If I do not use local music, do I still have to get a COSBOTS licence?

Yes, you need a COSBOTS music copyright licence before you can use any music whether local or foreign. Under the principle of National Treatment for works protected by copyright as enshrined in the Berne Convention, which Botswana is signatory to, COSBOTS is obligated to treat foreign works the same way it treats national works.

Where do the license fees go?

COSBOTS is a member- based, not-for-profit organization made up of music creators-songwriters, composers, publishers, performers and owners of sound recordings. All license fees collected (less the administrative costs) are distributed as royalties to the right owners.

We already paid the performer to perform at our event. 

Why do we have to pay COSBOTS?

The payment of appearance fees is different from music copyright licence fees. When a performer is paid to perform at an event, such payment is only an appearance fee for his/her services as a performing artist at the event, but not for the public performance of the musical work, which may have been created by another person and published by an entity different from the performing artist. You will require a performing right licence from COSBOTS for the public performance of the works. Performing rights are the rights to perform music in public. Performances are considered “public” if they take place in a public place and the audience is outside of a normal circle of family and friends including concerts, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, carnivals, festivals, etc. Public performance also includes broadcast on cable television, radio, and any other transmitted performance of a live song. Permission to publicly perform a song must be obtained from COSBOTS.

I rent out my venue to event organizers. Who is responsible for paying the COSBOTS licence fee?

Both the owner of the venue and the event organizer maybe liable. As an owner or operator of an event center using any form of music whether live or recorded, you are responsible for obtaining the appropriate music copyright licence from COSBOTS and paying the corresponding fees. If music is used in your venue simply contact COSBOTS. The event organizer needs to make sure that the venue is fully licensed or he/she maybe liable for copyright infringement. The event organizers are therefore advised to contact COSBOTS before the use of music.

I already paid for commercial bouquet for cable reception in my place of business. Do I still need a COSBOTS licence to receive DSTV music programming in rooms or other facilities within the establishment?

Yes, you need a COSBOTS licence. The payment of subscription to receive DSTV signals or any other cable signals is not the same as music copyright licence, to communicate music and sound recordings in public or commercial environment. Anytime music is performed, communicated, played, used or broadcasted in public or commercial environment, a COSBOTS licence is always required. Remember such subscription only gives you the right to receive signals and not the right to publicity or commercially use music.

Does Copyright protect ideas?

Copyright does not protect ideas. It only protects the specific and original expression on the idea.