IN time for the celebration of World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, the Philippines made a resounding declaration in its bid to combat piracy and other violations of the Illegal Property Rights (IPR) within the nation.
On April 26, the international community, through the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) arm of the United Nations (UN) celebrated the role of intellectual property in the creation and innovations in film, music, literature and other recorded art mediums.
Representatives from the government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) came together to reinstate and reaffirm their commitment to curb piracy, illegal cam-cording and other IPR violations.
Working with the theme “Movies: A Global Passion,” the government aims to fully protect the integrity of local and international films by going after vendors of pirated movies and violators who illegally download films online.
“We are not only using ‘iron fists’ in reprimanding violators. We are going to the root of the problem by sitting down in discussion with vendors [of pirated material]and also working with different schools to discuss the importance of intellectual property,” informed Dennis Pinlac, the executive director of the OMB in a press conference.
Meanwhile, OMB Chairman Ronnie Ricketts said in a statement, “The theme for the World IP Day this year shows that people across the globe have a shared passion for movies. Illegal cam-cording and piracy pose a great danger that may hinder us from enjoying our love for films.
“As evidence by our efforts in 2013, offenders have been apprehended and sanctioned accordingly,” he added.
In 2013, the IPO recorded P 7.5 billion worth of seized counterfeit and pirated materials, a testament that IP violations are still very rampant.
According to PNP Chief Senior Supt. William Macavinta, the main reason behind persistent piracy violations in the country is the public’s “general lack of awareness,” and more importantly the consequences of such violations.
“In the first quarter of 2014 alone, the PNP conducted six major operations and seized over P40 million worth of confiscated materials. Although it has decreased from last year’s figures, the problem is still ongoing because people are not aware that they are violating the law. Illegal downloading and using un-sponsored downloading sites are forms of violations too,” the PNP official said.
For the public’s information, there have already been successful convictions of IP violators in the country. The PARI recently shut down Kickass Torrents (KAT.ph), “a torrent site that hosts illegal music and film download for free.”
“We filed a case in the IPO instead of regular courts because we felt that being the agency tasked to oversee the protection of intellectual property, the IPO would be in the best position to understand the issues. Just six months later, we succeeded in taking down the KAT.ph domain name through a temporary restraining order that IPO granted against Kickass Torrents,” said Atty. Marivic Benedicto, legal counsel of PARI.
There was also a cease and desist order issued to the “dotPH” for having allowed KAT.ph to go online.
Moreover, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) removed the Philippines from the “Special 301 Watchlist” on April 28, which names countries lacking in intellectual property protection.
“In recent years, the government has enacted a series of significant legislative and regulatory reforms to enhance the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines,” the USTR said.
Together, these actions aim to protect millions of workers in the copyrights-based industry, which contributes to about 4.8 percent in the country’s GDP.