Pinoy bloggers tackle porn, libel, copyright issues

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2008 10:50 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2008 06:50 AM

Journalist Luz Rimban talks about political blogging for the 2010 polls.

By DAVID DIZON
abs-cbnNEWS.com

The Philippine blogosphere is alive and kicking as evidenced by the heavy turnout of Filipino bloggers of different agendas and advocacies in UP Diliman last Saturday for the 4th Annual Philippine Blogging Summit.

This year’s summit tackled a wide range of topics including a crash course on blogging by self-proclaimed Head Geekette Charo Nuguid, tips on problogging by student-slash-problogger Juan Karlo Licudine, blogging for advocacy by FilipinaImages co-founder Noemi Lardizabal Dado and sessions on photoblogging and videoblogging by Juned Sonido, Coy Caballes and Aileen Apolo.

One unexpected guest in the lineup of speakers was Aussie blogger Brian Gorrell, author of the two-month old blog "The NOT So Talented Mr. Montano."

Gorrell, who exposed the alleged misdemeanors of several socialites, said he had no idea that starting a blog in an effort to get back $70,000 allegedly stolen by a former boyfriend would become more than just an obscure rant in cyberspace.

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"I never thought this would happen to me, bloggers. I had no idea what a blog was before I started mine. And now my entire life is about my blog. Because I am a strong individual, I’ve been able to absorb this reality," said Gorrell in a 10-minute video presented at the summit held at the UP College of Law.

The audience couldn’t help but laugh at Gorrell as he tried in vain to swat mosquitoes while the video was being taken at his farm in Australia.

"Mosquitoes everywhere! I am being eaten by mosquitoes. I am suffering for my blog," he said.

Five tips for bloggers
Drawing from his experiences, Gorrell listed several tips to aspiring bloggers including keeping one’s self "physically and emotionally healthy" for the blog and determining how much time to devote on updates. He also said a blogger should face the fact that not all of his readers will like what they read on the blog.

Link to blogsCharo Nuguid
Juan Karlo Licudine
Noemi Lardizabal Dado
Brian Gorrell
Juned Sonido
Coy Caballes
Aileen Apolo
Attorney JJ Disini

"It depends on what kind of blog you have. If you have a blog about love and poetry and soft things and beauty, most of the comments that you will get are going to reflect the concept of your blog. If you have a blog like my blog, well, you should expect at least 30 percent of the people who read your blog are not going to like you or your blog," he said.

"Although they are part of your readership, they are reading it for completely different reasons so don’t be fooled that everybody likes you. People can be cruel."

He said one way of minimizing the hate is to ensure that you are writing your thoughts clearly and to use spell-check.

He said bloggers should also refrain from editing their blogs too much especially after posting an entry to make sure that the original subject of the entry is not altered.

Finally, he said that a blogger should keep a healthy perspective on the blog. "Try not to get swept up in your blog. You should be able to close your computer and walk away. It took me two months to know that the blog is going to be there in the morning…It’s becoming my career now," he said.

Libel and copyright
Attorney JJ Disini, who has become a familiar face in the iBlog summits, also presided in a Q&A session on legal issues on the Internet, including possible breaches on libel and copyright.

Disini said that while the Internet offers some measure of anonymity, this does not mean that existing libel and copyright laws do not apply to the blogger.

"For many people, it would be the first time that you’ve written and published something in your life. If you write something and the material is covered by libel, then you can be sued for libel. Sa Tagalog, paninirang puri. Example is Brian Gorrell who made several statements against Mr. Montano and the Gucci Gang, which can be considered libellous," he said.

Disini said unauthorized copying of pictures and text from other Web sites is also covered under Republic Act 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act. Under the law, violators found guilty of intellectual property infringement using the Internet could face a jail term of six months to three years and a minimum fine of 100,000 pesos per instance.

"If someone copies your work wholesale and uses it without giving credit, that’s plagiarism, which is not a crime but is just bad manners. It’s also copyright infringement, which is a crime. In some online photo databanks, they can sue you for up to P1 million for the use of one picture. Now if they copy your picture but give you credit, they’re no longer guilty of plagiarism but they are still liable for copyright infringement because they still need your consent," he explained.

Disini said fair use could apply as long as the Web site only takes a small portion of the copyrighted material and does not affect the potential market for the work. He said that for images, one could always use thumbnails and link back to the original site where the image is hosted.

He said use of Creative Commons licenses to inform readers about copyright issues on online material is also helpful.

Pornography
In a separate interview, Disini also spoke out against the unauthorized posting of photos and videos of medical procedures on social networking and video-sharing sites.

Disini said the Cebu "rectal surgery scandal" and the posting of pictures of delicate medical procedures done by nursing students are a clear breach of professional ethics. He said people who post the videos and images of delicate medical procedures could also be held liable for violating anti-pornography laws.

"Obviously, these people are doing it because they think you can’t identify who took it. So they’re using the anonymity afforded by the Internet because otherwise they wouldn’t do it," he said.

"They could also be sued for pornography. Our standards are -- even what you consider a medical shot of genitalia could be considered pornographic."

Camarines Norte Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato earlier said medical personnel who take footage of a medical procedure and then post the videos on the Internet could face jail time and a hefty fine under House Bill 3828.

Vinzons-Chato, a former internal revenue bureau chief, said HB3828 imposes a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment and a P3 million fine for medical people who take videos of their patients without consent and then post the videos on video-sharing sites.