MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the reinstatement and resumption of trial of ABS-CBN Corp.'s copyright infringement case against two executives of its rival GMA Network Inc.
In its press briefing on Thursday, the high court said it partially granted the petition of ABS-CBN to sue for copyright infringement against news operations head Grace dela Peña-Reyes and program manager John Oliver Manalastas over the use of exclusive footage of the arrival in the Philippines of overseas Filipino worker Angelo dela Cruz in 2004.
The SC said it found that "the trial court erred in failing to resume the proceedings and that the Court of Appeals erred in finding that the then Secretary of Justice committed errors of jurisdiction despite its own pronouncement that petitioner ABS-CBN is the owner of the copyright on the news footage."
"The Court of Appeals also erred in finding good faith, as well as lack of knowledge of infringement, as a defense against criminal prosecution for copyright and neighboring rights infringement," it added.
The case stemmed from the arrival of dela Cruz in July 22, 2004, which was covered live by ABS-CBN.
ABS-CBN allowed Reuters Television Service to air the footage it had taken earlier, under a special embargo agreement.
ABS-CBN said that under the agreement, the footage can only be used by Reuters foreign subscribers and no Philippine subscriber will be allowed to use the footage without ABS-CBN's consent.
GMA, which received the live video feed of the coverage from Reuters, carried the feed in its program. GMA claimed that it did not receive any notice nor was it aware that Reuters was airing coverage from ABS-CBN.
This prompted ABS-CBN to file a complaint for copyright infringement.
"Upon review by the Court, it found that the footage in question was copyrightable material and that respondent was aware of that fact. It however distinguished as to who was possibly liable on the basis of actual participation in the act of infringement. On this basis, the Court excluded the other respondents and included only respondents Dela Pena-Reyes and Manalastas arising from their positions, experience, knowledge and participation," SC said.
Other respondents, namely Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit, Marissa Flores, and Jessica Soho are no longer impleaded in the case. - with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
ABS-CBNnews.com is the news website of ABS-CBN Corp.