Wednesday, April 6, 2011

FILCOLS Huntahan for Women Writers: A Winner!

An informal discussion on writing, publishing, intellectual property, and copyright specially designed for women writers and researchers, FILCOLS Huntahan was held last 28 March 2011 at the Seminar Room, College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), Magsaysay St., University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Individuals from FILCOLS’ partner UP Center for Women’s Studies (CWS), media partners and Businessworld, Ili Bathaluman, Women’s Feature Service, Emilio Aguinaldo College, Adamson University, Blog Watch Mulat Pinoy, Punla (Pulso ng Madla) a local newspaper in Bulacan, Advance, a new company offering tutorial services,,, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, US Embassy Manila’s Jenifer Neidhart de Ortiz, Trade and Investment Officer, and US Embassy Bangkok’s Jennie Ness, Regional Intellectual Property Attaché, attended the event.

NBDB Executive Director Andrea Pasion-Flores was also present. Tweet Sering, an established chic lit writer and a newbie in the industry as publisher, graced the FILCOLS Huntahan as well.

The session started with a warm welcome from the Director of Center for Women’s Studies Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio. She also invited everyone to join CWS as it celebrates Women’s Month with numerous activities especially prepared for women.

Then IPOPHL’s Attorney Sara Jane Suguitan made the participants stretch some muscles and dance for a few minutes.

After everyone was energized by the exercise, Atty. Suguitan started discussing intellectual property. She explained the basics of IP then later on zoomed in on copyright.

Next speaker was Alvin Buenaventura, FILCOLS Executive Director. He introduced FILCOLS and then proceeded to discuss the benefits of exercising the economic rights of writers. To prove his point further, he mentioned an Australian children’s literature writer who is living a comfortable life despite being a single mom.

The writer is a member of Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), the collective management organization of Australia. She receives remuneration from CAL for her works that are being photocopied in schools.

Before he ended his presentation, he encouraged everyone to join FILCOLS.

Dr. Mihaly Ficsor, president of the Hungarian Copyright Experts Council and a WIPO permanent observer, followed with a short talk on copyright in the international scene. He mentioned the WIPO Internet treaties and emphasized that the licensing scheme model in the Philippines should be voluntary. Buenaventura later on confirmed this by stating that it is the only scheme allowed under the IP Code of the Philippines.

Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) Chair Abdon Balde Jr. presented the benefits of joining a writers’ organization. He also explained the business side of publishing. “Publishing is not just about printing what one has written. It also means being sensitive to one’s market so there will be more sales for the publisher. It also means writing about serious topics in a more interesting and fun way,” he said. He enumerated the types of books that became bestsellers in other countries.

During merienda break, participants were encouraged to raise questions about the topics that were discussed.

Grace Nicolas shared her experience about finding her work which was originally posted as a blog entry and a note on Facebook. Her work was used and discussed in a classroom. Her permission was never sought.

Atty. Suguitan advised her, if possible, to set up a meeting with the persons initiating the use of her work in a classroom. She said that it’s a good practice to put a reminder at the end of every article one posts in the internet as well. The reminder should contain steps in seeking permission from the copyright holder if anyone wishes to use or repost it.

Nicolas also expressed her concern over her works with characters that seem to be very realistic to the point that some people are asking her if she refers to them. Nicolas asked if a libel case can be filed against her for writing that kind of fiction.

Atty. Suguitan answered no. Balde backed it up by telling his version of Nicolas’ concern. One of his novels was about rampant corruption in the government. He named his characters after real people around him but he added or changed a syllable or two in the characters’ names. Some people who have similar names and characteristics to the novel’s characters read his book but did not file any case against him because his work falls under fiction. If they filed any case or got angry with Balde, it was like admitting guilt over their own sins and mistakes in the first place.

Ruth Floresca asked if infringement was committed when she saw her article posted in two big media network sites. She submitted the article to the online magazine she’s working for.

Atty. Suguitan advised her to re-examine the contract between her and the online magazine. She must check if there was an assignment of her copyright to the online magazine. If there was no contract, the copyright still belonged to the author meaning she may ask for remuneration for republication of her work in another site. She may also ask her works to be pulled out from the sites.

Aurora Yumul became the devil’s advocate for a day by saying piracy is democracy. She also expressed her dislike about people who post their works online and complain too much when their works are being copied and posted on other sites.

NBDB’s Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores reminded Yumul that copyright holders are just like ordinary people, they are also of different types. Since copyright is a private right, copyright holders may or may not exercise their rights over their works. It means that there are copyright holders who choose to let other people reproduce their works with or without their permission. It is perfectly okay. But there are copyright holders who choose otherwise. It is perfectly okay as well.

Alice Pingol asked if it’s possible to find another publisher for her book that was funded and previously published by a research center. The book was not for sale but she noticed that a lot of her friends especially from abroad are interested to buy but are having a hard time searching for a copy in their country. She decided to reproduce it on her own (in CD format) and sold copies of it. She was concerned if her action was illegal.

Before replying, Atty. Suguitan asked Tweet Sering to impart her experiences as an independent publisher of her own book “Astigirl.” Sering shared the details of her journey to becoming one of the newest and perhaps one of the youngest independent publishers in the industry today. Sering expressed with pride that her book was launched on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2011. She also encouraged women writers to give self-publishing a try by citing important lessons and habits she acquired while doing it.

Atty. Suguitan proceeded to answer Pingol’s query. She advised her to check any contract or grant form that she signed for the research process and publication of the book. If the document forbids her to reproduce her own work in the same or another format, it means that she is not allowed to reproduce it and sell even to her own friends. But if there is no contract or the contract does not state that the publisher or the funder has exclusive rights for the reproduction of the book for a period of time, Pingol is allowed to publish her work independently or with another publisher.

The event ended with closing remarks from Beverly Siy, FILCOLS Executive Officer. She thanked media partners and Business World especially Mr. Omar Dela Paz Itay who distributed copies of the day’s newspaper as freebies to all the participants, partners UP CSWCD and UP CWS especially Dr. Estrada-Claudio, Dr. Odine de Guzman, and Ms. Ilene de Jesus, IPOPHL especially to Atty. Louie Calvario, Atty. Mark Robert Dy, and Atty. Suguitan, UMPIL and sponsors the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE) and KOPINOR.

This event aimed to encourage working together to address writing and publishing challenges in and outside the academe and to promote women writers’ rights in the country.

FILCOLS Huntahan sessions were previously held in Mandaluyong, Cavite, Naga, Pangasinan, and Quezon City. FILCOLS receives support from NORCODE and KOPINOR. NORCODE is an international copyright development group organized and funded by five copyright societies namely KOPINOR, GRAMO, TONO, BONO and NORWACO. KOPINOR is the reproduction rights (RRO) of Norway while FILCOLS is the RRO of the Philippines.

Written by Beverly Siy.

This press release can be copied and posted anywhere as long as the author's byline is retained. Thank you.

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