NEWS

The following article was originally published in Asian Correspondent.

Philippines to bolster anti-Internet piracy drive

MANILA, Philippines—Budding Filipino artists are heartened by government’s intent to strengthen laws against copyright infringement. “(Many) people think they can just download anything,” said Toni Munoz, 24, freelance composer and graphic designer. “But those are our original works…(government) needs to be stricter.”

anti-Internet piracy in the Philippines

Philippines to strengthen IPR laws. Photo by writer

Munoz is one of many whose intellectual property rights (IPR) are violated, mostly by bloggers or social networking site members that re-post photos and other creative works without attribution.

In the Philippines, copyright is upheld under Republic Act (RA) 8293 enacted in 1997 to “protect and secure the exclusive rights of scientists, inventors, artists and other gifted citizens to their intellectual property and creations.” Many Filipinos, however, believe that the law’s coverage is insufficient, particularly in protecting work published online.

The Committee on Science and Technology (COMSTE) headed by senator Edgardo Angara, is pushing to amend RA8293. Angara said he will continue to advocate the anti-Internet piracy bill in the current 15th congress. Filed in 2007, Senate Bill 880 seeks to prevent instances of copyright infringement through the Internet by “integrating comprehensive and efficient strategies to respond to the upsurge of (piracy),” according to COMSTE.

“The challenge to protect intellectual property have [sic] changed with rapid advances in technology and the quick transfer—whether legal or illegal—of information and software through the Internet,” said Angara. “Our overall aim is to provide an Internet environment where it is safe to distribute and license protected material.”

Copyright infringement is prevalent in the Philippines, which trails Indonesia, Vietnam and China, respectively, as Asia’s fourth biggest “pirate center”, based on a survey by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC). France, meanwhile, enacted in 2009 the Creation and Internet Law to curb illegal downloads. The Higher Authority for Distribution of Works and the Protection of Copyright on the Internet (HADOPI) was created to monitor Internet usage and recommend blocking access of violators on the third offense.

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