Press Release
November 5, 2012

Bill to protect artists, writers approved

The Senate passed on third and final reading a bill seeking to amend the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, to protect intellectual property rights of Filipinos who excel in various fields that rely on copyrighted protection.

Senator Manny Villar, principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2842, said the Philippines will be better equipped to fight piracy, avert intellectual theft and protect copyrighted works once the President signs the proposed measure into law.

"We owe it to our artists, composers, writers, designers, programmers, scientists, animators and Filipino professionals to protect their body of work against copyright infringement," Villar said.

"It is high time that we genuinely adhere to the international principle of fair use to limit the use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the owner," he added.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded the passage of measure and underscored the need to upgrade the copyright section of the Department of Trade and Industry. He said the creation of a Bureau of Copyright, which the bill calls for, "will facilitate the immediate resolution of cases involving issues on copyright, licensing and collective management agreements."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, co-author of the proposed legislation, also lauded the measure noting that he was himself a victim of exploitation by local publishing companies.

Villar said that copyright piracy in the country was so bad that the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a private group composed of trade associations in copy-right based industries in the United States, had recommended the Philippines and 12 other countries to be placed in the Priority Watch List of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) 2011 Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

"To be included in the USTR's Priority Watch List means that countries do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection, enforcement or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection," Villar explained.

He said the passage of the Anti-Camrecording Act of 2009 had prompted the removal of the Philippines from the USTR's out-of-cycle review last year. However, he added, the Philippines remain in the lower level Watch List since 2005.

Villar said the measure proposed the following amendments:

1- The establishment of a Bureau of Copyright which will handle policy formulation, rule-making, adjudication, research and education. The bureau will see to the specific requirements of our copyright-based industries such as books, music, film and media.

2- Regulation of Collective Management Organizations (CMOs). Under this mandate, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) will monitor the groups that enforce the copyright of the copyright holders. It is intended to benefit not only the rights holders themselves but the users of copyrighted works.

3- Special consideration for the visually impaired. This provision would expand the concept of fair use by exempting the blind or visually-impaired persons from securing permission for the non-commercial production of copy-righted work for their use.

4- Expansion of what constitutes copyright infringement. Provisions on copyright infringement will include contributory infringement, circumvention of technological measures and rights management information as aggravating circumstances, and the option to collect statutory damages instead of actual damages and

5- Compliance with WIPO Internet Treaties. Important provisions of the Copyright Treaty and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to which the Philippines is both signatory, will be considered such as the protection of technological measures and rights management information to provide protection for copyrighted dissemination through the internet.

" We have to act now to respond to the onslaught of criminal activity happening under our noses at the expense of our brilliant and creative human resources. Copyright piracy remains a significant barrier to legitimate trade in copyright materials in the Philippines, causing losses to all the industries," Villar said. (Pilar Macrohon, PRIB writer)

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