Book publishing groups hit DepEd for abetting copyright infringement

The copyright and book publishing industry sector slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) for its alleged violation of the law during a House of Representatives hearing.

Books in shelves

The Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society, Inc. (FILCOLS) and Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) hit the DepEd for violating Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act during the House Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Christopher De Venecia which conducted its second hearing into the state of the Philippine publishing industry and other related industries on Thursday, Oct. 21.

PEPA president Jose Paolo Sibal, showing some points raised by the PEPA Board, cited the copyright infringement made by private and public schools which have lifted passages from textbooks of private publishing companies into their own self-learning modules (SLEs). He also noted that DepEd has done the same thing in their SLEs.

Sibal added that the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) must show strict policing to help the marketing arm of the publishing industry. He also called for the strict implementation of RA 8047, specifically Sections 10 and 11, which mandates DepEd to consult the National Book Development Board (NBDB) about public school and textbook publishing, and the participation of private publishers in the public school textbook program.

Sibal also reiterated PEPA's position paper regarding House Bill 7946 which amends RA 8047 for the scanning and conversion of textbooks to digital for the use on a free online platform.

Filipino Copyright Licensing Society, Inc. (FILCOLS) executive director Alvin Buenaventura criticized DepEd for issuing Department Order 18 which according to FILCOLS is anti-RA 8047 because it calls for a large-scale reproduction or mass printing.

Buenaventura also pointed out DepEd's disregard of intellectual property rights of authors or publishers, abuse of the 'fair use' act, sudden 'legislative power', and failure to meet the economic rights of teachers regarding the production of modules or books. He added that FILCOLS will recommend amendments to the IP Code, which will include the extended collective license which also covers orphan works of authors, RA 8047 and RA 10931.

NBDB chairman Dante Ang also took note of DepEd's intellectual property controversy with publishers.

Ang added that they are already holding consultation meetings with DepEd and other stakeholders with regards to intellectual property rights issues.

Ang also cited the bills filed in both houses of Congress seeking amendments to RA 8047 which he said are steps in the wrong direction.

The said bills are HB 7946 of Parañaque City Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting and Senate Bill No. 1881 of Senator Lito Lapid which orders publishers to allow the scanning or conversion of public school textbooks into e-books and other digital formats.

DepEd Bureau of Learning Resources (BLR) director Atty. Ariz Cawilan said that they are already talking with FILCOLS regarding intellectual property concerns to resolve the matter as soon as possible. Cawilan added that DepEd will also discuss the said issue with other stakeholders.

De Venecia has also suggested a meeting with DepEd and other stakeholders from the publishing industry. (Melvin Sarangay)