MANILA -- The Optical Media Board (OMB) on Tuesday filed complaints before the Department of Justice against 15 social media users who illegally streamed Metro Manila Film Festival movies on their social media accounts.
The 15 social media users face raps for violating the Intellectual Property Code (RA 8293) and the Optical Media Act of 2003 (RA 9239).
The OMB said the 15 individuals were found to have illegally streamed MMFF movies on their social media accounts in exchange for minimal fees ranging from P15 to P30 per movie or from P50 to P300 for all the 8 MMFF entries.
At least 2 of them offered to stream the movies free of charge.
The MMFF partnered with online streaming platform Upstream as the sole streaming platform, charging P250 for every ticket for each movie.
The OMB said they engaged in sale, distribution, or any other activity involving optical media, in violation of section 19 of RA 9239.
They also infringed on the economic rights of copyright owners under sections 177.1 and 117.7 of RA 8293 which gives copyright owners the exclusive right to reproduce or communicate to the public their work and to authorize or prevent it.
They could face up to 90 days in jail or fined up to P50,000 under the Optical Media Act while the Intellectual Property Codes imposes up to 3 years imprisonment and up to P150,000 in fines for first time offenders.
Lawyer Cyrus Valenzuela, chief of the OMB’s legal division said they were able to trace the real identities of the respondents, most of whom used their real names.
“Social media posts nila, mga videos, tsaka yung mga actual posts wherein inooffer nila for sale yung movies pati na rin yung mga pictures nila on social media kasi we verified…these are real persons,” he said.
Two others were caught in a buy-bust operation on Monday and underwent inquest proceedings at the Manila prosecutors’ office on Tuesday, while another was caught in Quezon City and also underwent inquest.
The OMB has so far received 49 reports of piracy of MMFF entries.
Jovit Moya of Upstream said they were prompted to file raps because every time movie piracy takes place, the jobs of those in the movie industry are threatened. He added that movies are now more expensive to produce during the pandemic.
“Kapag namimirata, pinagnanakawan nila ang mga producer. So pag walang kinita ang mga producer, wala nang magpo-produce. ‘Yung mga paborito ninyong mga artista, hindi niyo na makikita. Kawawa naman yung mga tao na nagtatrabaho sa industriya, yung mga behind the scenes, yung mga camera crew, yung mga lighting and so on and so forth,” he said.
Upstream is processing data to come up with figures of how much it lost as a result of pirated MMFF movies, according to Moya.
Film producer Quark Henares, part of Globe Studios which co-produced Best Picture winner “Fan Girl,” said they have been monitoring illegal streams online over the Christmas break and saw that there were around 10 links per hour.
He cited as an example one pirated stream of “Fan Girl” getting 45,000 views, noting that a movie ticket on Upstream costs P250.
“Sobrang nakakalungkot siya actually kasi kadalasan, actually karamihan ng nag-iispread ng mga links, ng mga videos online through Facebook or what not, parang gusto lang nilang magpa-cool. In a sense gusto lang nila ng likes, gusto lang nila ng shareability.”
Both Henares and Moya appealed to Filipino viewers to consider the jobs of artists and other movie workers before patronizing pirated movies online.
“Tayo po’y nakikiusap sa publiko. Suportahan po natin ang ating industriyang pelikulang Pilipino. Huwag po tayo mabubulag dun sa uy, mas mura yung pirata. Ilagay po natin sa tama para po tuloy-tuloy ang paggawa ng mga producer natin at nang sa ganun tuloy-tuloy na makapagbigay ng aliw sa ating mga kababayan at higit sa lahat, makita niyo po ang inyong paboritong artista nang tuloy-tuloy,” Moya said.