Palace to review IP Code amendments

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2013 01:50 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2013 10:59 PM

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - The proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code are still under review by the Office of the President.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said position papers of various groups opposing the amendments have been submitted to the OP for consideration.

Some sectors have expressed concerns over the proposed ban on jailbreaking, downloading and sharing music, and bringing home books and DVDs from other countries.


“Those are three concerns raised by people who are against those particular amendments. Those three are precisely the ones that we have given to the Office of the President, to the team that is reviewing it to see kung ano po ba ang basehan ng mga objections na ito,” Valte said.


The President received the amendments on January 29 and has 30 days to either veto the bill or sign it into law. Non-action from the President will make it “lapse into law.”


“Hindi po ito revenue bill, hindi rin ito tariff bill. So hindi po ito pwedeng i-line item veto. So either the President vetoes it or he signs it or he lets it lapse into law,” Valte said.

Internet rights activists are urging President Aquino to veto proposed amendments to Intellectual Property Code that they say will make jailbreaking an Apple device or importing books from abroad illegal.

Officials of Democracy.Net.PH said the proposed amendments to Republic Act 8293 infringe on the right of the people to import books, media and music for their own personal use.

Ricardo Blancaflor, director-general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), earlier said on ANC that the proposed amendments to Republic Act 8293 that Congress has passed should not be cause for panic.

"You can bring in as many CDs and DVDs and books as long as you don't infringe on the rights of creators. This is a fear of something that does not really exist," he said.

In a statement, Blancaflor denied journalist Raissa Robles' statement that the IP Code amendments will stop OFWs from bringing home copyrighted works.

"Contrary to Ms. Robles' insinuations that OFWs can no longer bring home copyrighted works, they can in fact bring home more copies for personal use that fall under the fair use exceptions. The deletion of Sections 190.1 and 190.2 in fact allows for religious, charitable, or educational institutions to import more copies, for as long as they are not infringing or pirated copies, so that more Filipino students in the country may use such works," he said.

He added: "Moreover, the IPOPHL has a very good working relationship with the Bureau of Customs, hence, there can be no misinterpretation of the real intention of the amendment in the Rules to be drafted by the Commissioner of Customs.

Blancaflor reiterated that jailbreaking or any other form of circumvention of technological measures, as defined in Section 6 of the amendments, are not crimes in themselves.

He said the amendments require that you first be found guilty of copyright infringement, and that is the only time that jailbreaking or circumvention of technological measures increases the imposable penalty and damages that can be awarded by the courts.

"You still need to be found guilty of copyright infringement, as jailbreaking is merely an aggravating circumstance that increases the penalty," he said.

Downloading pirated music illegal

Blancaflor, meanwhile, said downloading pirated music has always been illegal, and especially detrimental to local artists.

He said all organizations of Philippine singers, performers, composers, artists, and producers, have been pushing for the amendments because they have been severely affected by music piracy.

"However, even before the E-Commerce Act provision against piracy and hacking, downloading pirated music has already been penalized by R.A. 8293, enacted as early as 1997, which punishes copyright infringement or the reproduction of a work without authorization by the copyright owner (Sec 177, IP Code)," he said.

The IPOPHL chief said a single song "can be the subject of many IP rights", noting that the composer, lyricist, etc., has "copyright" over the song, while producers, performers, and broadcasters have "related rights" over it.

Blancaflor noted that under the present IP Code, there are limitations to copyright, which do not apply to related rights.

"The Bill in fact broadened such limitations and exceptions and narrows down what acts constitute copyright infringement as to related rights. The amendment of Sec. 212 of the IP Code in fact reinforces the general exception of fair use for infringement of related rights," he said.

He said the amendments order the establishment of the Bureau of Copyright and Other Related Rights, performing the more substantial function of policy formulation, rule making, adjudication, research and education.

"Although a Copyright Division exists in the National Library, the function of such office is ministerial in nature: to be a depository of copyrighted works. A bureau dedicated to serving the needs of the copyright-based industries and stakeholders could give more focus and rally more resources for these sectors," he said.