Fair use of copyrighted work

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,

I am a full-time college professor in one university in Manila. I am a big fan of the movie “Heneral Luna,” and I sincerely believe that it could serve as an excellent educational video on history and culture for my college students. It also espouses love for country and patriotism, which, I feel, today’s youth lack.

I currently handle three classes of around 40 students each. In order to ensure that my students get to watch the film, I obtained an original DVD copy of the film using my own money since the school library does not have it yet. I am therefore planning to hold a film-viewing class sometime next week in one of the viewing halls of the university. I would like to know whether I am violating any intellectual property law by showing the film to my students as part of their class curriculum.    
Professor Jack

Dear Professor Jack,
We agree with you that our youth could learn valuable lessons from history and that patriotism and nationhood are essential traits for our future leaders. For your query about intellectual property laws that you might violate if you proceed with your intention of showing the movie (an audiovisual work) to your class, it is helpful to look at the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

Sec. 171.6 of the law defines the public showing of an audiovisual work (video) as: “the showing of its images in sequence and the making of the sounds accompanying it audible” at “a place or at places where persons outside the normal circle of a family and that family’s closest social acquaintances are or can be present.”

Further, under the law, the owner of a copyrighted work such as a movie or a reproduction of a movie has economic rights over the movie. The owners of these movies are the producer, author of the scenario, composer of the music, the film director, and author of the work so adapted. It is the producer who has the right to collect distribution and exhibition fees on the movie, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. (Sec. 178.5, RA 8293)

As to your intention to show “Heneral Luna” for your class, it may be considered as Fair Use of a Copyrighted Work as defined in Sec. 185 of RA 8293, which states, “The fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright. xxx”

The law also outlined several factors to consider in determining whethercopyrighted work may be considered as fair use, which are:

(a)“the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit education purposes;

(b)“the nature of the copyrighted work;

(c)“the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;

(d)“the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

As applied to your case, you wish to show the movie only for educational purposes and have no desire to profit from it. Hence, your activity may be considered as fair use of a copyrighted work. You need not seek the permission of the producers or directors of the movie, as long as you give credit to the makers of the movie, do not declare it as your own work and show the movie within the limitations provided under fair use.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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