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Globe, KROMA, AVIA cite urgency to strengthen IP code to combat content piracy

Leading digital solutions platform Globe and its “tradigital” entertainment arm KROMA continue to bolster its partnership with the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) to combat the onslaught of illegal streaming and downloading of pirated content in the Philippines.

As a member of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), Globe supported the organization’s recent Digital Piracy Summit, which highlighted the need to revise the country's Intellectual Property (IP) Code through proposed House Bill No. 0799.

The legislation aims to make the country’s patent application system “more attuned to the digital age” and boost the power of regulators against online piracy, among others.

Proposed amendments will empower regulators with “permanent blocking orders, takedown orders, cease-and-desist or disable access orders” against offenders.

Currently, the IP code’s definition of pirated goods does not cover electronic or online content, a loophole that has enabled online piracy to fester. The code also lacks a provision that would allow for the efficient and effective blocking of pirate sites, thereby inhibiting enforcement.

The importance of IP rights is underscored in the administration’s eight-point economic agenda which calls for the creation of quality jobs by increasing employability, encouraging research and development and innovation, and enhancing the digital economy.

During the event, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda championed the clarion call “create, own, protect” as he spoke about the urgency and necessity of updating the Intellectual Property Code.

He said this legislative upgrade will transform the Philippines into a world power in intellectual property, being one of the largest exporters of creative goods among developing economies.

The proposed amendments for copyright, trademark, and patents, will give the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines greater power to take down infringing materials, and increase civil and criminal penalties for violators.

“These amendments will help the Philippines protect Filipino content in the digital age,” he said, adding that “a strong policy framework could engender a bigger creative sector given our socio-cultural predisposition.”

According to Salceda, the Philippine IP Code was likely unable to anticipate the ubiquity of the digital space as it was enacted back in 1997. Business Process Outsourcing, which covers most of the creative sector, was also not a major industry at the time.

With digitalization, consumers may now stream content anytime and anywhere, resulting in an explosion of demand, increased production of original content, and the creation of new ways for consumers to watch content. The downside to the growth is increased online content piracy.

The lack of IP protection, Salceda said, is a barrier to economic growth and a danger to consumers because it is a disincentive to shared creativity.

Salceda cited the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) as a clear example of how pirated content severely affects the industry.

He noted that the MMFF booked an estimated gross revenue of about P30 million when it decided to use digital platforms due to the global health crisis which prevented cinemas from operating. As MMFF content was heavily pirated, selling for as low as P20 per movie, revenues were way below the P1.06 billion earned in 2018 and P955 million in 2019, when entries were screened in cinemas.

Jil Go, KROMA’s Head of Broadcast and Publishing, said while piracy is a daunting threat given the ubiquity of the internet, any effort to minimize it will have a significant impact on the lives of many people.

“We have numerous creators and stakeholders in KROMA whose livelihood depends on how effective the laws against digital piracy are. So we strongly support legislation that will institutionalize the blocking of pirated sites,” she said.

“Rampant online piracy is a lingering problem, posing a danger to the viability of businesses and the livelihood of content creators, and also exposing users to malware and other online threats. Globe has been voluntarily blocking validated illegal piracy sites to protect the industry and our consumers,” said Anton Bonifacio, Globe's Chief Information Security Officer.

Yoly Crisanto, Globe Group Chief Sustainability and Corporate Communications Officer, said the company continues to educate its customers through its #PlayitRight anti-piracy initiative.

“We encourage our customers to become responsible and intelligent custodians of content through our education and awareness programs and campaigns and by offering legal and affordable ways of streaming content,” she said.

Globe’s anti-piracy initiatives are in line with its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG No. 9, which underscores the role of infrastructure and innovation in development.

Trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy undermines this global goal as it detracts from efforts to reward innovation and creativity, impacting potential job creation and the growth of companies in the creative industries.

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