The coronavirus pandemic has also triggered a spike in reports related to piracy and intellectual property rights in 2020 — even exceeding the total cases recorded by the government from 2013 to 2019.
At a House hearing Thursday, March 4, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippine (IPOPHL) Assistant Director Ann Edillon disclosed to lawmakers that the agency received 190 reports on piracy and counterfeiting last year, which was more than the total 146 reports that the IPOPHL got from 2013 to 2019.
“We attribute it partially of course to the fact that because of COVID[-19], everything has gone online,” said Edillon, who heads the IPOPHL’s enforcement office.
The reports came from consumers, concerned citizens, and anonymous informants, she explained.
Edillon said that 64.5 percent of the 190 reports they received in 2020 were related to piracy and counterfeiting.
Specifically, 57 were piracy-related, while 67 were on counterfeiting of goods.
Meanwhile, “almost 90 percent of all reports concerned online infringement, online counterfeiting and online piracy,” she noted.
“So it reflects, really, the shift to the online space,” Edillon said.
“Since it is quarantine, people are at home, [you] have to find ways to entertain yourself from the confines of your home,” she added.
Of the piracy reports, 38.9 percent were about pirated shows and movies; and 25.9 percent were about electronic books.
Further, in 2020, there were 21 piracy reports related to shows and movies: 11 of which were foreign, while 10 were Filipino films.
She said pirated foreign content were mostly Korean telenovelas, which they already reported to the Korean copyright commission and embassy; as well as Japanese anime and American shows.
For the local films, two were from the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which was made available on-demand via streaming platforms.
They also found out that Filipinos were behind 19 of the 21 piracy reports they received, offering pirated content at an average of P5 to P15 per file and distributing them thru links or access to cloud storage sites.
Despite these reports, Edillon said no formal complaint from the rights owners has been filed before the IPOPHL.
“We don’t have police powers in that regard to actually enforce on our own, so we refer our report to the rights owners, then the rights owners wouuld have to initiate the case…We can’t really act until and unless the rights holder files a complaint,” she said.
“We find [it], sayang (regretful), because under the guidelines, we can actually undertake take down and blocking in coordination or in relation with the powers of the NTC (National Telecommunications Comission),” she said, citing a memorandum of understanding they signed with the state telecommunications regulator.
The House Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts was conducting an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the reports of online piracy during the MMFF 2020.
“We fully support any endeavor, any movement, to address piracy concerning MMFF films, especially concerning Filipino films in general ’cause we recognize that our film makers, local actors, and even the small players, like our gaffers, they’re much affected by whatever piracy is happening, especially of Filipino films,” Edillon said.