MANILA, Philippines - Senator Tito Sotto would be promoting piracy if he follows the advice of his chief of staff that Internet content is free to be used and claimed as his own without laws being violated, a journalist and blogger said Friday.
South China Morning Post correspondent Raissa Robles, who also has a blog on ABS-CBNNews.com, told ANC that Atty. Hector Villacorta's claim that Sotto can use any online content without fear of copyright infringement has implications.
"Atty. Villacorta said that the Internet is free. This would mean that Senator Sotto would be championing digital piracy," Robles said.
"He will never allow such piracy to be punished because you see there are pending bills right now punishing digital piracy online so that's what it means," she added.
"Sotto is a champion of the entertainment industry. What Atty. Villacorta said has very vast implications. He said everything in the Internet is free. That means music and movies can be downloaded or ought to be downloaded for free all time," she said.
Villacorta, in a text message to ABS-CBNNews.com, claimed that they are not violating copyright laws, despite the standards set by Republic Act No. 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
"Blogs are public domain, information to the world, for the world. No copyright infringement," he said.
Robles said Sotto should follow the footsteps of journalist Fareed Zakaria, who was suspended by Time and CNN after admitting he plagiarized a paragraph from the New Yorker for his Time column.
Zakaria has apologized for committing plagiarism.
"Take the action that Fareed Zakaria did. Apologize for the whole thing and put it behind him," Robles said.
"There are very serious implications about this. He is not just a senator. He is a Senate majority floor leader and his speech was a major speech," she added.
Robles said whoever who wrote his speech for him was getting information from the Internet word-for-word.
"That, by classic definition, is plagiarism," she warned.
"I don't know what is going on in their office. But the point is, that is his speech," she said. "Senators, they have a lot of money for staff."
She expressed disappointment that Sotto's speech is supposed to champion the side of groups opposing the reproductive health bill.
"This is sidelined now by the accusation of plagiarism, which is also a very serious thing," Robles said.
She said if Sotto will have another privilege speech, his staff should go over it very carefully.
"I always thought that if a senator delivered a speech in the Senate, he would have thought about it for a long time and that would be his ideas," she said. "It should come from his heart." - reports from Karen Flores, ABS-CBNNews.com; ANC