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Senate Passes Copyright Office Bill

Issued: November 01 2012
The Philippine Senate has approved a bill to strengthen the country’s copyright law by creating a dedicated copyright office.

It is hoped that the bill, which must also be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the president, will help the Philippines fight its reputation as having high piracy rates of copyrighted material.

Senate Bill 2842 would create a dedicated copyright office, called the Bureau of Copyright, which would complement the existing IP Office of the Philippines. The Senate said in a press release that the office would “handle policy formulation, rule-making, adjudication, research and education.” The bill passed on its third and final reading.

The bill would also to expand the definition of what would be considered infringing activities in the Philippines. “Provisions on copyright infringement will include contributory infringement, circumvention of technological measures and rights management information as aggravating circumstances, and the option to collect statutory damages instead of actual damages,” the release also said.

Senator Manny Villar, principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2842, said the Philippines will be better equipped to fight piracy, avert intellectual theft and protect copyrighted works once the President signs the proposed
measure into law. “We owe it to our artists, composers, writers, designers, programmers, scientists, animators and Filipino professionals to protect their body of work against copyright infringement,” Villar said.

Villar said that copyright piracy in the country was so bad that the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a private group composed of trade associations in copyright based industries in the United States, had recommended the Philippines and 12 other countries to be placed in the Priority Watch List of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) 2011 Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

“To be included in the USTR’s Priority Watch List means that countries do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection, enforcement or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection,” Villar explained.

He said the passage of the Anti-Camcording Act of 2009 had prompted the removal of the Philippines from the USTR’s out-of-cycle review last year. However, he added, the Philippines have remained in the lower level Watch List since 2005.

“We have to act now to respond to the onslaught of criminal activity happening under our noses at the expense of our brilliant and creative human resources. Copyright piracy remains a significant barrier to legitimate trade in copyright materials in the Philippines, causing losses to all the industries,” Villar said.



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