Advanced Television

Philippines strengthens IP protection

May 23, 2023

By Colin Mann

The Philippines House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that will strengthen the powers and functions of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), and amend the Intellectual Property Code (IP Code) to adapt to recent advancements in technology and further address piracy and counterfeiting.

Voting 267 against zero and one abstention, the chamber approved House Bill (HB) No. 7600 which would give IPOPHL additional powers to prevent counterfeit or pirated goods or contents.

“With the proposed additional functions of the Intellectual Property Office and the new amendments to Republic Act No. 8293, we hope to respond to recent advances in technology since its last revision,” commented Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez. “We also hope that with this important legislation, we will be able to adopt some of the current best practices in the international community.”

“Our laws must also respond to prevalent and more advanced forms of piracy and counterfeiting nowadays and with this proposed law, we hope to support to support governmental efforts that would protect intellectual property,” he added.

The bill defines counterfeit and pirated goods and authorises the IPOPHL to gather intelligence information, and investigate violations of the IP Code and develop countermeasures to deter counterfeit or pirated goods or content.

If passed into law, the measure will also allow IPOPHL to visit establishments and businesses suspected to be in violation of RA 8293.

HB 7600 also adds a new Section 216-A on Preventive Action on Online Infringement which empowers the IPOPHL, after due notice and hearing, to disable access to an online location or website and prevent further access to an online location whose primary purpose or primary effect is to infringe the copyright or facilitate copyright infringement.

It would also allow copyright owners or the exclusive licensee of copyright to submit an application to the IPOPHL to order the disabling of access to any infringing online location identified in the application.

The bill likewise increases the range of administrative fines that can be imposed by the Director of Legal Affairs from a minimum of P5,000 (€83) and a maximum of P150,000 to a minimum of P100,000 and a maximum of P1 million. The maximum additional fine for each day of a continuing violation is also raised from P1,000 to P10,000.

The Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) and the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) congratulated Albay Representative Joey Salceda for the passage of his legislation.

AVIA and CAP believe Congressman Salceda’s Bill will go a long way to addressing the rampant online piracy in the Philippines that is damaging the growth of the Philippines economy as well as providing real harm to consumers. AVIA and CAP have been working with the Philippines Government and the Philippines content industry for some time to champion the passage of site blocking legislation to address this concern, including a number of meetings and workshops such as an anti-piracy seminar hosted by AVIA, CAP and the Globe Group in Manila in September 2022 where Congressman Salceda was the keynote speaker.

2023 figures from a study conducted by YouGov and commissioned by AVIA and CAP showed that almost 60 per cent of Philippine consumers watch pirated content – an alarming number that has a direct impact on the Philippine creative industry and consumer safety.

However, the study also showed growing consumer awareness of the damage caused by piracy, with 90 per cent of consumers believing that piracy has negative consequences for the Philippines. The study also showed a path ahead with 45 per cent of Philippine consumers believing a government or court order for ISPs to block pirate websites would be the most effective measure to reduce piracy in the Philippines. Congressman Salceda’s Bill has been strongly supported by local industry with numerous representatives, including GMA Network, Inc., the Globe Group and KROMA Entertainment attending the Second Reading of the HB7600 in person.

“The evidence continues to show that site blocking, when implemented in an efficient and effective way, and ensuring the necessary elements of due process, is an incredibly powerful tool to both stop online piracy and protect consumers from the unseen harm caused by piracy, and we applaud Congressman Salceda for his determination to address the issue,” commented Matt Cheetham, General Manager of CAP.

Cheetham also noted that earlier this month, Senator Estrada introduced matching legislation in the Senate (Senate Bill 2150) for Congressman Salceda’s Bill. “With the successful passage of Congressman Salceda’s Bill in the House, we look forward to the successful passage of matching legislation in the Senate that will allow the Philippines to grow its economy and protect its consumers from online harm,” he added.

“The Globe Group congratulates Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda for steering House Bill No. 7600 towards its triumphant passage at the House,” declared Globe Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Communications Officer Yoly Crisanto. “This is a landmark achievement for the creative industry, with the bill a step closer to becoming a law. We are inching closer towards ensuring more stringent protection for our content creators and their livelihood.”

“Piracy not only jeopardises the livelihood of content creators and other works in the creative industry but also worsens consumer exposure to malware risks. Revisions to the IP code are essential for bolstering a digital landscape that is secure and equitable,” she said.

“GMA Network fully supports this extremely important legislation which would benefit and protect not just the creative industry but the viewing public as well,” said GMA Network, Inc.’s Asst Vice President for Litigation and Special Projects, Legal Affairs Atty Jose Vener Ibarra.

“Website blocking for copyright infringement has been proven as an effective tool to fight digital piracy and support legal content creators and services, whether it’s TV, film, books, video games, or music. It is about time that the Philippines enact a site blocking law that would help curtail the losses of an already struggling industry.”

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