House panel OKs bill seeking to block pirated entertainment content sites
MANILA, Philippines — A panel from the House of Representatives has passed a bill that proposes to modify the Philippines’ Intellectual Property Code. It will enable officials to block sites hosting or containing pirated materials.
The House Committee on trade and industry, chaired by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, has approved House Bill No. 7028. It will help the entertainment and creative industry to revive itself by eliminating unauthorized content.
Salceda, the head of the House Committee on ways and means, noted that around 7.3-15% of the economy depends on copyrighted material. Therefore, modifying Republic Act No. 8293 would protect the industry, particularly in the digital age where content is easily accessible.
“As content has become more easily transmissible in the digital space, infringement has also become more prevalent in the online space. As such, a more dynamic and proactive manner to prevent such infringement is necessary, but is currently unclear or absent in current law,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“Particularly, there is a need for an explicit mandate and clear regulations and standards to allow Rights Holders to apply to the Intellectual Property Office to order the disabling of access to Infringing Piracy Services,” he added.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines will be able to shut down a website sharing copyrighted material if the bill is passed. Section 221B outlines the procedures for the request to block a website with pirated content.
The losses due to piracy during the COVID-19 pandemic amount to over P1 billion and make it difficult for the creative industry to recover.
“You cannot own what you cannot defend. That’s why these powers are just as important as actions to promote content creation. More media and creatives are moving towards the digital space. Vivamax, IWantTV, among others create and stream Filipino content. They will lose out, along with the jobs they create, if we don’t block pirated content,” Salceda said.
“Such losses were most felt during the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival, which had to migrate to streaming due to COVID-19 restrictions,” he added.
The lawmaker also thanked the committee for passing another bill of his — HB No. 799 — which proposes changes to the Intellectual Property Code to suit current times.
“Let’s run both horses and see which one goes faster. But we need site-blocking powers urgently because that will help put an end to stealing from Filipino content creators and creatives. This is an extrajudicial way of enforcing IP rights,” the Albay lawmaker said.
“Courts simply do not have the time or bandwidth to handle digital IP violations in a way that reduces harm immediately,” he added.