Rising Counterfeiting and Piracy: Senate Panel Supports Amendments to Intellectual Property Code

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Concerns over the Increase in Counterfeiting and Piracy Activities

Senator Mark Villar, Chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, has expressed his concern regarding the significant rise in counterfeiting and piracy activities during the lockdown. This surge has left local video producers, distributors, and aggregators at a disadvantage.

Proposals to Amend the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines

During the hearing on April 30, various proposals to amend the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (IPCP) were discussed. Senator Villar referred to a report presented by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), which highlighted the increasing incidents of counterfeiting and piracy.

The report revealed that the number of piracy and counterfeiting cases has surpassed the total number of reports and complaints filed from 2016 to 2020. Specifically, there has been a 40 percent increase in alleged piracy of movies and shows, a 25 percent increase in alleged piracy of e-books, and a 16 percent increase in suspected piracy of software products.

Senator Villar expressed his concern over these numbers, emphasizing that the losses incurred outweigh the supposed benefits of providing entertainment to Filipinos. The purpose of the hearing is to amend the IPCP and discuss the necessary refinements to address the recent changes in the industry.

The Impact of Piracy on the Creative Industry

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who introduced Senate Bill (SB) 2150, highlighted the detrimental effects of piracy on the creative industry. He stated that piracy not only hinders production but also affects the livelihood of workers and significantly diminishes revenues from the sector.

He cited the unfortunate case of the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which reportedly earned less than P50 million due to massive piracy, illegal access, and unlawful consumption of MMFF entries across cyberspace. One film producer shared that they discovered 10 to 20 illegal online streaming links per hour.

It is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has witnessed an unprecedented rise in film piracy worldwide. In the Philippines, illegal online links to Filipino movies that are still being shown in cinemas are indiscriminately shared on social media platforms.

The IPOPHL has reported a significant surge in counterfeiting and piracy activities in 2020, surpassing the number of reports and complaints received from 2016 to 2020. Movies and shows were the most reported for alleged piracy (40 percent), followed by e-books (25 percent), and software products (16 percent).

A study has revealed that over 60 percent of Filipino consumers watch pirated content, making the country one of the highest piracy rates in Southeast Asia. The proliferation of illicit activities significantly impedes the growth of the creative economy, leading to job losses and worker displacement.

Proposed Measures to Safeguard Intellectual Property Rights

Hence, Senator Estrada emphasized the necessity of effective regulations and mechanisms to safeguard intellectual property rights. SB 2150 proposes several measures to address this issue.

The bill suggests restricting access to online sites that facilitate copyright infringement and introduces preventive action and site-blocking procedures. Additionally, it recommends imposing higher fines ranging from P5,000 to a minimum of P100,000 up to a maximum of P1,000,000. Furthermore, an additional fine of P10,000 for each day of continuing violation is proposed.

These measures aim to deter individuals and entities from engaging in piracy and counterfeiting activities, protecting the rights of creators, and ensuring the viability of the creative industry.

Source: The Manila Times

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