Estrada eyes revision of Intellectual Property Code to combat piracy

(MANILA BULLETIN) Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is pushing for the revision and updating of the scope of the country’s intellectual property code to help against Philippine cinema’s greatest threat — piracy.

In filing Senate Bill 2150, which aims to amend the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, Estrada noted how piracy deeply hurts the creative industry, as it discourages production, affects the livelihood of its workers, and significantly diminishes revenues from the sector.

Estrada cited the case of the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which reportedly
earned less than 50 million pesos only, a substantial loss from the billion-peso box office gross from the preceding years.

SB 2150 recommends the disablement and possible site blocking of access to online sites that facilitate infringement, along with increasing fines to a minimum of P100,00 to P1 million and an additional P10,000 per day for continuous violations.

“Considering the pervasiveness of these illegal activities, which severely hamper the growth of the creative economy and lead to the loss of jobs or displacement of workers, there is a need to establish regulations and effective mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights,” the bill states.

The Philippines currently does not have a legislative mandate to block sites with pirated content. The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and internet service providers are only teaming up to put up stop-gap measures to block sites with pirated content.

In 2022, the Philippines lost around $700 million due to the piracy of Filipino-made TV shows and movies, as the country has been named as one of the top consumers of pirated content in Asia, according to a YouGov 2022 Piracy Landscape Survey. IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba estimates that the Philippines will have around $1 billion in revenue leakage in 2027 if concerns regarding online piracy continue.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), piracy takes away around 7.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. This results in forgone revenue for the country and loss of livelihood, and it even threatens to inflict malware on devices consuming pirated content, which can be a gateway for scams.

“In the interest of revitalizing the film and creative sectors and realizing their full potential as one of the major drivers of growth in the national economy, the immediate passage of this legislation is earnestly sought,” it added.

The IPOPHL also said that revising the 27-year-old IP code and mandating authorities to disable access to online sites infringing copyrighted materials will be much welcomed, noting that they have been advocating for its amendment and are ready to implement it once passed.