Changing the face of copyright

In the Philippines’ National Intellectual Property Strategy 2020-2025 report, experts have found that there remains to be a low level of awareness on copyright in the Philippines – and on intellectual property in general. This intertwines with another issue: the lack of statistical data to understand how big the copyright-based sector is in the Philippines.

“The difficulty of quantifying accurately the copyright-based sector stems from the fact that its scope is really very broad,” says Rowel S. Barba, director general, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL). “There have been efforts in the past to survey it and its economic contributions in the Philippines. BCRR will be initiating efforts to publish comprehensive research on this as well. For this, we may be working with other pertinent government agencies like the DTI-Export Management Bureau, the Philippine Statistics Authority, or even foreign IP offices to get a full picture of the copyright sector, its contribution to the local economy, its external trade, its potential. We hope we could publish this report within the year.”

Among BCRR projects to heighten awareness of copyright issues includes offering free copyright seminars and capacity-building workshops. Each is tailored to target specific industries of the copyright-based sector, more widely referred to as the creative sector.

Just a couple of months ago, BCRR successfully conducted its first Copyright Forum, which highlighted the collective management industry. The forum also gave way for partnership deals to be formalized; the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) partnered with Homonym, a Manila-based music solutions agency, to collaborate on promoting intellectual property in the Philippine music industry. IPOPHL also tied up with the Animation Council of the Philippines, the Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines and the Game Developers Association of the Philippines to enhance their members’ capacities in copyright management. Besides the cooperation of the private sector, government agencies are also encouraged to put in place their own IP policies.

“We have also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Big Bad Wolf to be part of its annual book sale where we can give free lectures on copyright awareness,” says Barba. “We started implementing and carrying out the agreements under the partnership at the recent Big Bad Wolf Book Sale held from February 14-24, 2020, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Manila.”

Emerson G. Cuyo, director of the Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights, says that they also accept copyright deposits pursuant to the deputization and memorandum of agreement signed with the National Library of the Philippines.

“We also accredit organizations or institutions that collectively manage the copyright of their members, from collecting royalties to going after those who infringe on their rights,” he says. “We work with them in the promotion, protection and enforcement of copyright.”

In terms of digital piracy, Barba expects the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) to come up within the year with the legal framework for enforcement in the digital environment, including takedowns and website blocking, especially for known and notorious infringers. “And to help those whose copyright and related rights were infringed on, we are also streamlining our alternative dispute settlement procedures, and at the same time working closely with the Supreme Court to fast-track procedures on IP litigation,” he says.

With the establishment of the BCRR, growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the Philippine creative economy is to be expected, although there have been several attempts to do this, such as a 2014 WIPO-commissioned study that estimated that copyright-based industries accounted for 7.34% of the Philippines’ GDP in 2010. The study also found out that copyright-based exports (3.06% of total exports) exceeded copyright-based imports (0.81%) and that workers in copyright-based industries were responsible for 14.14% of all people employed in 2010.

“We hope to improve these figures and go so far as to have capacity to produce our own regular reports on this,” says Barba. “Under my term, the creative economy will be one of the priority sectors of IPOPHL. We hope that as we strengthen the BCRR, creative minds will be motivated to continue creating works that could contribute to the economy and advance our cultural esteem. Further, we want the impact of our creativity to go beyond borders. Filipino creativity is recognized in various literary and artistic fronts around the world. As we strengthen copyright protection and capacitate copyright holders to manage their rights effectively, Filipinos’ presence in creative markets will surely expand and even be highly influential to other cultures.”

What does the future hold for copyright in the Philippines?

“The future of copyright in the Philippines most certainly looks bright and promising,” says Cuyo. “For example, we can look forward to the country’s accession to a number of international treaties that would clarify and extend copyright protection to marginalized stakeholders in the copyright system. We have started to touch base with non-traditional industries in the copyright sector as well, with the end-view of helping them in their copyright education and awareness, and in the promotion of their respective industry.”

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