Artists should stand up for their copyright

It is time that IP rights owners stand up to their rights and defend their creative works with all the might and support they can gather

Technological advancements have always been creators’ gateways for new opportunities.

On social media and YouTube, we’ve been witnessing the rise of a new breed of local content creators. And in the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, these platforms offered a lifeline to the creative sector.

However, when in the wrong hands, technologies can break the creative industry.

An example of an event in recent memory is the fiasco at the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festivals. Left with little choice due to the pandemic, the MMFF opened virtually for the first time and saw a slump in revenues from P955 million in 2019 to only P31 million that year. The main culprits blamed were content pirates who made illegal access to MMFF films either for free or for P10 – P20 versus the ticket price of P250.

The widespread use of technologies for piracy have made protecting copyrighted works doubly challenging, creating struggles for copyright holders to ensure even the most basic right of attribution to their works. Worse, copyright holders are often unfairly exploited, victimized by greedy companies and the lack of awareness of their rights.

As the young Artist Juan Carlos put it at CITEM’s CREATE event last July: “It’s actually quite frightening how many artists don’t actually know anything about (copyright).”

Like anyone else, our local artists do not want to get entangled in the lengthy, costly and complex legal process of going after pirates. Their main priority is to create, find inspiration and create again.

But piracy cannot be ignored. A silent protest is sending the wrong signal that we are condoning such crimes. The silence is becoming too loud that we fear it breaking Filipinos’ creative spirit.

It is time that IP rights owners stand up to their rights and defend their creative works with all the might and support they can gather.

On our end, IPOPHL has been reaching out to various groups to urge action against piracy and present the many remedies available to rights holders.

At the Coalition Against Piracy’s Digital Piracy Summit held last week, our Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua even talked about IPOPHL’s push to vest in IPOPHL the authority to determine which piracy sites to block based on requests by rights holders.

With the theme, “A Barrier to Economic Growth and a Danger to Consumers,” the event was also graced by no less than Cong. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, who promised faster legislation on our proposed push to expand our enforcement powers and called on artists to defend their copyright and related rights.

Crucial role of CMOs

Aside from supportive lawmakers from Cong. Joey and other partners in government, we also pin our hopes on IPOPHL-accredited collective management organizations, namely the Performers Rights Society of the Philippines Inc.; Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc.; Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society, Inc.; Philippines Recorded Music Rights Inc; Independent Music Producers of the Philippines; and Sounds Recording Rights Society Inc.

Their accreditation with IPOPHL manifests their competence to provide services to copyright holder-members and equitably support the public’s interest to access creative works.

For artists, tapping CMOs means having a central system of handling the use of their work, from collecting fees to sending takedown letters and going after those who infringe on your rights.

CMOs also benefit those who seek to commercially and legally use copyrighted works by providing a single payment facility. Such a practical arrangement is essential because a violation of the IP Code could mean imprisonment of between one to three years and a fine of between P50,000 to P150,000. And that’s only for the first offense.

Our Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights has been strengthening and strongly promoting CMOs. We certainly have more plans in store for improving the CMO community and their transparency system.

So we hope artists will strongly consider joining CMOs and stand up for their copyright.

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