MANILA, Philippines—Listen up, candidates. Before you use the ubiquitous “Gangnam Style” as your campaign jingle for next year’s elections, make sure you pay Psy’s record company first. Music, after all, does not come for free.
In a letter sent to all 32 senatorial candidates on Tuesday, the Music Copyright Administrators of the Philippines (MCAP) reminded the candidates that the unauthorized use of a song for a political campaign is a crime under the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines that carries a penalty of nine years in prison and/or a fine of up to P1.5 million. Changing the lyrics of a song without prior permission of the composer or music publisher likewise constitutes copyright infringement.
“Because popular songs become part of our national and global psyche, most people tend to think that music can be used for free. The truth is, popular songs are the creations of composers and lyricists, which have been made popular through the efforts of artists and record producers. They are the result of talent, hard work, and hard cash. Indeed, popular songs are intellectual creations protected under Philippine copyright law and international treaties,” said the letter signed by MCAP chair Alvin F. De Vera and president Marivic Benedicto.
Letters to Senate
The MCAP is an association of music publishers that administer the rights to local and international songs. Its members include Alpha Music Corp., Galaxy Records Inc., Ivory Music and Video Inc., Praise Inc., Star Songs Inc., Universal Music Publishing, Universal Records Inc., Saturno Music Production and Viva Music Publishing Inc.
Benedicto told the Inquirer that the MCAP initially sent the letters to the senatorial candidates but the group intends to send the notice to all candidates, regardless of position and affiliation.
The MCAP wrote the letter as the campaign season is about to start and jingles have become an inextricable part of the political landscape.
The letter said that campaign jingles using popular songs have helped many candidates win in past elections. They make campaign sorties fun and memorable and help the voters recall a candidate’s name and message.
“Thus, if you wish to use a popular song for your political campaign, you must, before you start recording the song, first obtain a license from the music publisher of the musical composition and pay the corresponding license fee. If you wish to use an existing recording, you need to also get clearance from the producer or the label of the recording, in addition to the license from the music publisher,” the letter said.