Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FILCOLS Position Paper on the Proposed QC Book Deposit Ordinance

As an interested party, FILCOLS position paper on the proposed Quezon City Book Deposit Ordinance introduced by Hon. Julienne Alyson Rae V. Medalla, City Councilor, District II and Hon. Alexis R. Hererra, City Councilor, District I

May 30, 2012

Hon. Julienne Alyson Rae V. Medalla
City Councilor, District II
Quezon City

Hon. Alexis R. Hererra
City Councilor, District I
Quezon City

Subject: FILCOLS Position Paper on the Proposed Quezon City Book Deposit Ordinance

Dear Honorable City Councilors Medalla and Hererra:

The Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society, Inc. (FILCOLS) requests that the proposed Quezon City Book Deposit Ordinance be amended to exclude the right to photocopy the books of affected publishers for wide distribution in Quezon City.

We agree with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which state "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

We laud the honorable councilors in their desire to make available books "to the public through city libraries and public elementary and high schools." We appreciate "the tax incentive equivalent to fifteen percent (15%) of the tax imposed under Section 28, Article 12, Chapter IV of the Amended Quezon City Revenue Code."

In exchange of the tax incentive, the proposed Quezon City Book Deposit Ordinance asks QC-based publishers to furnish three (3) copies of their printed books and "to grant the City Library limited authority to photocopy" to ensure adequate availability to all the congressional districts of Quezon City.

We agree that QC-based publishers may donate books to libraries and schools as part of their corporate social responsibility. But the proposed photocopying of books on a massive scale and for wide distribution will affect the business of publishers. Loss in sales for publishers means loss in royalties for authors. Low sales will also affect the livelihood of employees who are mostly residents of Quezon City. The proposed photocopying of these books without proper authorization may violate the rights of authors, especially if the publisher does not have the mandate from the copyright owners.

Article 23.3 of the UDHR state "Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection."

Also, Article 27.2 of the UDHR state "Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."

The authors, as the creators of works, sign a contract with the publishers to assign their rights. Under the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (IP Code), the authors' copyright or economic rights are the right of reproduction, transformation, distribution, rental, public display, public performance, and other communication to the public. (RA 8293, Chap. V).

Some authors may assign the right of printing and distribution for a limited period of time and for a limited number of copies. Some authors may assign the transformation of the work to other entities. But not all authors assign their reproduction rights to their publishers.

The Berne Convention, where the Philippines is also a party to, recognize the exclusive right of the author to authorize or prohibit the reproduction of the work "in any manner or form." According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) "the right of reproduction is often said to be the cornerstone of copyright."

Admittedly there are limitations or exceptions to the reproduction right of the author, "It shall be a matter for the legislation in the countries of the Union to permit the reproduction of such works in certain special cases, provided that such reproduction does not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author." (Berne Convention, Article 9.2).

Our own IP Code allowed limitations for "the use made of a work by or under the direction or control of the Government, by the National Library or by educational, scientific or professional institutions where such use is in the public interest and is compatible with fair use." (RA 8293, Chap. VIII, Sec. 184.h).

We believe that public interest is in the hearts and minds of the honorable councilors. But to determine if the use of the work is fair, we should also consider "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." (RA 8293, Chap. VIII, Sec. 185.d).

The normal exploitation of the work and the legitimate interests of the author are principles adhered to by the WIPO-administered Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement, Article 13) and the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT, Article 10). All of which were signed by the Philippines.

As the national reproduction rights organization (RRO), FILCOLS received the mandate from 539 authors, 35 publishers and one book industry association to manage their reproduction rights. FILCOLS was formed in 2008 through the joint efforts of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), and the National Book Development Board (NBDB). On the international level, FILCOLS is a member of the Brussels-based International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO).

We humbly suggest to the honorable councilors not to rush with the passing of this ordinance but to conduct a multi-sectoral consultation with private and government agencies like the IPOPHL, NBDB, BDAP, Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), Linangan sa Imahen Retorika at Anyo (LIRA), Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING), Ilustrador ng Kabataan (INK), Cavite Young Writers Association (CYWA), Siyudad ng Antipolo Arts Guild (SINAG), Filipinas Institute of Translation (FIT) and the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP).

Authors have bodies to feed and families to care for. Their right to a just remuneration for the use of their works is protected by our own law and recognized by international treaties. Let us join the international copyright community in protecting authors and their copyright because the creative works of authors educated and enlightened our minds.

Respectfully yours,

Alvin J. Buenaventura
Executive Director

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