Friday, September 23, 2011

Reproduction Right: Pro-author

23 September 2011

The Living Letter by Alvin J. Buenaventura of FILCOLS
Translated from Filipino by Beverly W. Siy

The author or the creator of an original work is given protection by the law through copyright. After the author’s death, the copyright will be passed to his/her family. And the family or the heirs will have this protection under the law for another 50 years.

It means that every writer, sculptor, painter or composer has rights over his/her works. And even after their death, their heirs will have exclusive right to use or to give authorization to others to use these works.

Copyright is made up of two things: the moral right and the economic right. The moral right is the right of the author to be acknowledged as the creator of the work. He/she has the right to put her name or a pseudonym as a byline. He/she also has the right not to put any byline at all. He/she also has the right to give permission to anyone who wants to revise his/her work. And he/she has the right to stop anyone from revising it.

The economic right is the right of the author to earn and benefit from his/her intellectual work. How can an author receive remuneration or benefit financially from his/her work? One item under the economic right is called the reproduction right. It is the right of an author to permit the reproduction of his/her work so that it can be read, heard, watched and enjoyed by more than just one person.

Long, long time ago, it was the kings and queens who served as the source of financial support for the writers, composers, sculptors and painters. These artists had very rich and powerful patrons (customers) no less than the kings, queens, princes, princesses, the popes and the bishops.

It was only the patrons who had the capacity to give free board and lodging, meals, allowance, art materials, paper and ink and other material things to the creative people. An example would be the patrons of the painter Michaelangelo: Leo X and Julius II. They are the heads of the Catholic church that’s why Michaelangelo painted scenes with religious themes.

Leonardo da Vinci had different patrons that’s why his artworks had different themes as well. Religious themes were portrayed in his art, there were portraits of businessmen or merchants or the noble people and their spouses and many more.

This system was also reflected in the music scene. Beethoven had some compositions that were created purely for the pleasure of one of his patrons, Prince Lobkowitz.

It seemed that these artists served as the personal photographers and personal musicians of the rich and powerful.

But because of technology and progress of the society, this system is slowly becoming obsolete. Even your father-in-law can be a photographer with the help of the built-in camera of his new cellphone. Of course, you are not allowed to say anything once he yells ‘cheese!’ You just have to flash that smile even if your father-in-law loves to take pictures from a dysfunctional angle, the reason why all of the shots are weird.

The patrons of the artists of our generation are different from the patrons of long, long time ago. They are the wealthy philanthropists who build art museums and open their homes to creative people. Ayala family is one example. It founded the Ayala Museum. Giant corporations like Petron Gas launch art contests. Sometimes it would be the government agencies who act as patrons like the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Government Service Insurance System.

The reproduction right is the reason why there are more than one copy of a work. And because there are many copies, a lot of people are able to buy, read, see and enjoy the work.

Through the sale of each copy, the writer earns. (It is called royalty.) The publisher earns too. This is the life line of the publishing industry.

This system works in the music industry as well. Music publishers are necessary to fund the publication of a song or a musical composition in CDs and other media. When songs or musical compositions are played in the radio, TV, movie, concert or any commercial establishment, the musicians, composers, singers and other people who in the music industry receive payment. That’s how they make a living.

Reproduction right is very important because it serves as the bridge of the consumer/patron/user to the works of the creator.

As long as a work is used, consumed and most especially, enjoyed by the public, it is just right for the authors (writers, artists, musicians and publishers) to receive remuneration. They invested lots of their time, talent and effort in creating the work anyway.

Authors, publishers or heirs of copyright owners are invited to join FILCOLS. We will help you protect your copyright over your works. To join, one only needs to have published works, or one must be the heirs of an author or has the right to manage the rights of an author. Membership is free. If you have queries, email us at

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