"The Kingmaker" Found To Be Illegally Streaming In Some Sites

03 November 2021

"The Kingmaker" Found To Be Illegally Streaming In Some Sites

The Kingmaker, a documentary about Imelda Marcos and her involvement with her husband’s political and personal life, has been found to be illegally streaming on several websites before being taken down. With the 2022 Philippine national elections on the horizon, Marcos opponents have started using this film as a campaign tool against the dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who is running for President.

Some social media users have been sharing a link to a Russia-based streaming site that featured ‘The Kingmaker’. The site was freely accessible with no subscription requirements and no advertising. This was clearly an unlicensed streaming service. Interestingly, some of the new movies featured were obviously recorded in a theater using a poor-quality camera while films that had already been streamed through legitimate sources like HBO Max and Disney+ are of excellent quality.

According to Mark Robert Dy, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cebu, School of Law in the Philippines, the operators of unlicensed streaming sites may be held liable for copyright infringement under Chapter XVII of the Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act No. 8293 as amended by Republic Act No. 10372) for exercising the copyright owner’s exclusive rights without authorization.

"To be specific, the streaming site infringed upon the copyright owner’s right to reproduce the work (Section 177.1) and the right to communicate the work to the public (Section 177.7)," he says. "Each time a copyrighted work is accessed from this site, it is reproduced and communicated without a license."

He adds that copyright infringement carries both civil and criminal liabilities.

"If a court finds the defendant liable in a civil case, they will be asked to stop the infringing activities and pay damages to the copyright owner," he says. "The infringing materials may also be confiscated and destroyed (Section 216.1). If a court finds the accused guilty in a criminal case, they may be imprisoned and fined (Section 217). These penalties are further increased by the Cybercrime Prevention Act (Republic Act No. 10175) for being carried out with the use of information and communications technologies."

He gives these tips to avoid such violations.

For the copyright owners

As a practical consideration, filing cases against every user of the website can be tedious and expensive. One challenge is that the copyright owner must overcome privacy issues to find out what people are watching on their personal devices.

Another challenge is that many users are probably underage and subjecting them to litigation would turn into a public relations nightmare. Going after individual users is usually not worth the cost and the negative publicity. It will probably fail to deter new users from doing the same thing.

A more effective strategy would be to go after the streaming site and have it taken down or at least blocked in the The Philippines. Under present laws, this process requires the copyright owner to file a complaint with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) [link: https://ntc.gov.ph/complaint-page-2/] and request for the blocking of the website. The complainant will then have to justify the request, cite laws violated, and provide evidence of the infringement.

Alternatively, the copyright owner may file a complaint with the IPOPHL Enforcement Office

"In the future, we may see this process improved and accelerated," he says. "The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) had submitted draft amendments to the IP Code to Congress to give the agency the power to issue takedown or site-blocking orders for websites containing infringing content.

For the users

Avoid copyright infringement by accessing content through legitimate streaming sites with the proper licenses. This way, you financially support the creators of your favorite films and avoid breaking the law.


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