Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda’s legislative effort to combat piracy has found vocal backers in the form of pro-consumer advocacy group CitizenWatch Philippines.

Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda

“We should encourage and develop, not discourage and disincentivize, the potential of the Filipino talent toward being a global creative powerhouse,” said lawyer Tim Abejo, co-convenor of CitizenWatch Philippines.

“To this end, we implore our lawmakers to act on House Bill (HB) 799 authored by Rep. Joey Salceda. This will be the first bill for urgent reforms to the Intellectual Property (IP) Code that institutionalizes site blocking as an anti-piracy strategy,” he said.

Also known as “An Act Establishing for The Revised Intellectual Property Code of The Philippines”, the Salceda measure seeks to amend the IP Code by expanding the power of regulators to address online violation of IP rights.

The bill redefines “pirated goods” to include content in electronic or digital form, allows the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to temporarily or permanently block websites and other platforms, broadens regulators’ powers to conduct intelligence gathering and block sites in coordination with other government agencies or intermediary service providers, and prescribes penalties against IP rights violators of up to P1,000,000.

Abejo said the bill already enjoys wide support from stakeholders in the creative industry, telecommunication companies and internet service providers.

Salceda, during a recent summit titled “Content Piracy: A Barrier to Economic Growth and A Danger to Consumers”, said there remains many things to do to combat online piracy. The summit was organized by the Asia Video Industry Association, the Coalition Against Piracy and Globe Telecom.

The economist-solon proposed a five-point strategy for knowledge industries that could arrest this problem and enable the industry to enjoy the support it deserves.

“First, we have to build capacity through investments from the government, the private sector, and joint public and private sectors,” he said. “We should provide incentives for research and development, pay attention to creatives industries, science and technology, and lift foreign-equity restrictions in knowledge-heavy sectors, among others.”

He likewise proposed “cross-pollination” — allowing knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer from foreign experts through tax and non-tax incentives.

Salcedo also cited the need for fair taxation – the imposition of value-added tax (VAT) on foreign digital services on parity with domestic service providers; market creation or government procurement of more Filipino creative works and promotion of creative Filipino culture here and abroad; and legal protection, which includes legislation such as the Creative Industries Development Act that protects the rights and welfare of creative sector workers, the Freelance Protection Act protecting the rights of freelance workers — on top of his HB 799.

“Billions of pesos are being drained from the economy because of online piracy,” said Abejo, noting the urgency of the matter.

“Thousands of creative workers and those in linked sectors are losing opportunities and getting disenfranchised when they could be part of a competitive industry of digital innovators and media creators,” he said.

It’s a daunting task, he said, but it could be done in the same way South Korea developed a successful global entertainment industry, with a music market estimated at $6 billion, according to the IFPI Global Music Report.

“There is no doubt that talent and excellence are two words that apply to Filipinos,” the convenor added.

“Our government could do is protect and support them so they could reach their full potential and transform our damaged creative industry into a global powerhouse of artistic geniuses,” Abejo said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (