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WORLD IP DAY FOCUS ON A GLOBAL PASSION

 In celebration of the World Intellectual Property Day, this year themed ‘Movies: A Global Passion’, the Philippines’ screen community gathered once more to renew their commitment to curbing illegal camcording and other violations of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the country.

Intensified efforts from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP) and the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFC) have been put into place to deter these violations and apprehend violators of IPR.

“Protecting the creativity and hard work of the Philippines’ screen community is of paramount importance to IPO. We are implementing stricter security measures to safeguard our film community,” said Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office. “However, we need the utmost cooperation and participation of the Filipino public in our campaign. We must show the rest of the world that we are all partners in eradicating illegal camcording, piracy and other IPR violations.”

“The theme for the World IP Day this year shows that people across the globe have a shared passion for movies. Illegal camcording and piracy pose a great danger that may hinder us from enjoying our love for films. We must all do our part in the protection of our film community,” said OMB Chair Ronnie Ricketts. “As evidenced by our efforts in 2013, offenders have been apprehended and sanctioned accordingly. We continue to use advanced technology and tactics in tracking violators, but we cannot succeed in this campaign without the involvement of the public. We encourage everyone to join us by exercising vigilance and reporting illegal camcording activities in our local cinemas, and refraining from patronizing pirated DVDs.”

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The Philippine IP environment is gaining ground against violators of IP rights. Recently, the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) has successfully shut down Kickass Torrents (KAT.ph), a torrent site that hosts illegal music downloads for free.

The case started in 2011 when the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) of London requested their regional office in Hong Kong for assistance in the case. The site indexes over 8.5 million torrents and is the fourth most popular BitTorrent site in the world that time. The site was previously kickasstorrents.com before April 2011, when it transferred to a “.ph” domain name hosted by dotPH Domains Inc. (dotPH), a local domain name service provider. This was allegedly done to avoid domain seizure by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the USA. The domain operator has changed the site’s hosting services in different countries, including the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain, to probably evade authorities and avoid legal sanctions against the site. Due to the gravity of copyright infringement committed by KickassTorrents, it was proposed to be included in the notorious market list by the US government.

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“The use of “.ph” in a domain name of an illegal website gave the impression that the Philippines is condoning piracy. Thus, before 2011 ended, the members of the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry (PARI) agreed to pursue the case with the ultimate objective of stopping the use of the PH domain for music piracy by kickasstorrents, ” said Atty. Marivic Benedicto, chairperson, PARI. “We chose to file the case in the IPO instead of the regular courts because we felt that being the agency tasked to oversee the protection of intellectual property, the IPO would be in the best position to understand our issues. We weren’t disappointed. Just six months later, we succeeded in taking down the KAT.ph domain name through the Temporary Restraining Order that the IPO granted against Kickass Torrents, and the order served to dotPH to cease and desist from providing the domain name of KAT.ph that allows users to access the illegal website. This achievement created worldwide buzz and projected that the Philippines is serious in dealing with all kinds of online piracy and other IPR violations.”

The local film industry will benefit from the prevention of intellectual property theft, particularly now that the industry is showing great potential in the production of more local films in the coming years. In 2013, a total of 300 local films were produced, which is definitely a significant increase as compared to the 30 films produced annually in the past. The motion picture chosen for this year’s World IP Day screening, Ekstra, is one of these films.

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“I am honored that amongst last year’s many films, Ekstra was chosen to be screened on World IP Day this year. We aim to impart the strong message that illegal camcording negatively impacts everyone involved in the film industry, be it the producers, movie stars, behind-the-scenes staff or the other individuals and businesses that support it,” said Atty. Joji Alonso, producer of the award-winning independent film, and recipient of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) Asia-Pacific Copyright Educator (A.C.E.) award for her role in advocating for legislation to prevent illegal camcording in cinemas across the Philippines. “The increase in the number of films produced last year is a very good indication that local film makers and producers are gaining confidence in creating more works of art in film. The Philippine film industry showcases great Filipino talent. It is crucial that the movie industry and everyone who supports it is protected from IPR violations.”

The anti-piracy campaign of the Philippine film industry, supported by collaborative efforts, is constantly being reviewed and improved. The rewards system implemented by the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council of the Philippines, which awards 5,000 Pesos to those who report illegal camcorders and 2,000 Pesos to the security guards who help conduct the arrest in cooperation with the police, is one of the measures set into place in line with the campaign and the Anti-Camcording Law (RA10088).

“Various measures have been implemented since the Anti-Camcording Law was passed in 2010, such as the public awareness campaign and the film industry’s close collaboration with the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice in the apprehension and punishment of offenders,” said NCAP and MPAFPC Vice-President Atty. Rolly Dueñas. “We are all continuously working on strengthening the campaign. We urge the exhibitors, theater operators, film producers, Philippine law enforcers and the Filipino public to exercise vigilance and cooperation in reporting and apprehending illegal camcording activities.”

Under the Anti-Camcording Law, any person who is caught using or attempting to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of any part of a performance in an exhibition facility of any cinematographic film or other audiovisual work will be charged with a fine of PhP 50,000 to PhP 750,000 (US$1,000-US$17,000) and will face imprisonment of a minimum of six months and one day to six years and one day.

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