Lapid pitches bill seeking to legalize digital scanning of textbooks

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2020 03:44 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2020 03:45 PM

MANILA - Sen. Lito Lapid has filed a bill seeking to allow the digital scanning of textbooks, saying easing restrictions on the reproduction of school reading materials may expedite the distribution of learning materials to public school students.

Senate Bill No. 1881, filed last week, intends to amend Republic Act No. 8047, or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, to mandate publishers to allow the Department of Education to scan or convert their works to e-books, "subject to compliance with... the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines."

"Sa panahong ito na delikado ang paglaganap ng COVID-19 virus, mas mainam kung maisalin na lamang sa e-books o digital format ang mga libro para ligtas ang bawat estudyante at magagamit nila ito gaano man nila kadalas kailanganin, nang hindi nagmamadali dahil may iba pa silang kaklase na kailangang manghiram ng module o libro," Lapid said in a statement.

(In times like these where the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, it is better to have textbooks converted into e-books or digital formats to keep students safe, and so that they can use these for as long as they need without rushing because a classmate needs to borrow it.)

"The e-books and digital format copies of the textbooks shall also be made available and accessible to all public school students, in a manner deemed appropriate and reasonable by the DepEd," according to the bill.

Lapid has yet to explain how the authors' intellectual property can remain protected with the proposed digital reproduction of textbooks.

"It is important for the government to resort to already available technologies and innovations that can temporarily fill the gap," he said.

This school year, Filipino students were forced to study from home after the government banned in-person classes to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The DepEd launched a blended distance learning system that includes online classes, modular program, and the use of radio and television. Students and teachers, however, in far-flung areas have been seeking for aid as they do not have either the means to purchase computers and gadgets, or stable internet connections.

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