Monday, December 30, 2013

FILCOLS Distributes Fees to Copyright Owners

The Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society recently started its first distribution of fees to authors, publishers, and other copyright owners in the country.

The remuneration were copyright license fees from the government’s Department of Education (DepEd) for the agency’s use of Filipino-authored works in the learning materials for Grades 1 and 7. The learning materials will be used by 2.5 million Grade 1 and 1.7 million Grade 7 pupils in the public schools.

The Philippine government's Department (Ministry) of Education is the first public agency licensee of FILCOLS. (Photo by AJB)

First government agency licensee

DepEd is the first government agency licensee of FILCOLS. The first private college licensee of FILCOLS was The Manila Times College. (See story through this link).

Upon the suggestion of John-Willy Rudolph, Kopinor senior adviser, FILCOLS initiated talks with DepEd officials in September 2011. Rudolph explained that like in his native Norway, the government’s education agency need to use local works in basic education. The government also must be at the forefront of showing proper respect for the rights of authors.

Rudolph stressed that the Philippines is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In keeping with its treaty obligation, the Philippine government may enact laws that allow reproduction of works but only in “certain special cases” and must not “conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and …not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.” (Berne Convention 9.2)

International copyright expert John-Willy Rudolph during a meeting with FILCOLS officers in Manila. (Photo by AJB)

He added that the “fair use” alibi of many educational institutions in the Philippines is good only for small portions of works; however the current practice of systematic and massive photocopying of works for internal use is a clear violation of the Berne Convention. The livelihoods of authors are clearly affected and their rights violated.

Kopinor is the reproduction rights organization (RRO) of Norway and Rudolph was its executive director for 24 years. After Kopinor, Rudolph chaired the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE). Along with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Kopinor and NORCODE provided grants to FILCOLS for its operations from 2010 to 2012.

NORCODE and KOPINOR officials visit FILCOLS. (l-r) FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura, NORCODE senior adviser John-Willy Rudolph, KOPINOR deputy director and Development Fund manager Hans-Petter Fuglerud, FILCOLS licensing officer Napoleon G. Almonte, and FILCOLS membership officer Beverly W. Siy. (Photo by Maricel Cartujano.)

Long negotiations with DepEd

FILCOLS licensing officer Napoleon G. Almonte arranged the initial meeting with DepEd secretary (minister) Br. Armin A. Luistro and the follow up with the other officials of the department.

FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura and legal counsel Javier P. Flores steered the subsequent discussions and negotiations on the license agreement. The negotiations spanned one year and six months until the token fee of PHP 427,500 (after DepEd deducted taxes) was released in March 2013.

Initial meeting between FILCOLS and the Department of Education. (Photo by OSEC)
Aware of the rights of authors

In a letter to FILCOLS chair Dr. Isagani R. Cruz dated May 25, 2012, education secretary Luistro acknowledged the “inherent rights of authors, composers, artists, illustrators, and the like who have invested their talents, creativity, and time in the creation of the selections, stories, or songs.” He added “we are also fully aware that a royalty fee must be paid for the use of a copyrighted material.”

However, Luistro explained the agency “does not have significant funds” to pay for the use of copyrighted works. He appealed to FILCOLS to allow the use of works for a nominal fee.

FILCOLS agreed with the token fee only for the one-time production of learning materials for Grades 1 and 7. For the next round of negotiations for the other grade levels, the department should allocate copyright license fees.

Dr. Cruz said “the token fee from the Department of Education is not big. But it is better than nothing.” The recognition of the education department on the right of authors to be properly remunerated for the use of their works is a big step in raising awareness on copyright.

On Dec. 5, 2012, the first licensing agreement between FILCOLS and DepEd was signed at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan (Knowledge Hall), DepEd Complex, Pasig City.

Signing of the first license agreement between FILCOLS and DepEd. (l-r) FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura, DepEd secretary (minister) Br. Armin A. Luistro, and FILCOLS chair Dr. Isagani R. Cruz. (Photo by OSEC)

Distribution for publishers

The distribution of checks for publishers commenced during the general assembly of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP) on November 29, 2013 at the Bonifacio and Katipunan rooms, Quezon City Sports Club.

BDAP is the country’s largest book industry association and main organizer of the annual Manila International Book Fair since 1979. BDAP also manages the biennial Gintong Aklat Awards (Golden Book) since 1981 “to recognize and encourage the production of quality books that are excellent in all aspects of bookmaking.”

BDAP president Lirio P. Sandoval said “We are happy to see the government’s Department of Education showing respect for the human rights of authors and publishers.”

Book Development Association of the Philippines president Lirio P. Sandoval. (Photo by AJB)

Aside from commercial publishers, recipients from university-based publishing houses include the Ateneo de Manila University Press, University of the Philippines Press (UP Press), and the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House (USTPH).

Newly-appointed director Rica Bolipata-Santos received the check for the Ateneo Press. She also volunteered to give the check to her friend and Ateneo professor Assunta Cuyegkeng.

Ateneo Press director Rica Bolipata-Santos receives the check from FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura. (Photo by Ran Espiridion)

Director John Jack G. Wigley and deputy director Ma. Ailil B. Alvarez received the check for the USTPH. Lucre Mae Villaluna representing UP Press received the check from FILCOLS board member and UP professor Gemino H. Abad.

FILCOLS and USTPH. (l-r) USTPH deputy director Ma. Ailil B. Alvarez, USTPH director John Jack G. Wigley, FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura, and FILCOLS admin officer Ranielle S. Espiridion. (Photo by USTPH staff)

Distribution for authors

The distribution of checks for authors took place at the Bulwagang Recto, University of the Philippines Diliman on December 6, 2013. The distribution coincided with the annual general meeting of FILCOLS and the Writers’ Night.
Authors and heirs at the FILCOLS annual general meeting, Recto Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman. (Photo by Mary Grace "Marice" Isidro)

Dr. Abad expressed his thanks when he received his share. He said “I hope many Filipino authors will join FILCOLS. It is good to see that authors now receive something for the re-use of their works. This is fantastic.” Professor Abad volunteered to give the checks to some of his friend-authors who were not present at the meeting.

Representing the heirs of authors, Ann Marie Villanueva gave a short message of gratitude to the FILCOLS board and management. She is the heir and widow of author Rene O. Villanueva.

FILCOLS distribution of remuneration for heirs of authors. (l-r) Executive Director Alvin J. Buenaventura, Ann Marie Villanueva, and Professor Gemino H. Abad. (Photo by Marice Isidro)
Authors affected by supertyphoon Haiyan

Tacloban-based author Merlie Alunan was not able to attend and receive her check due to the recent calamity which struck the Visayas area. Along with many communities, authors from central Philippines suffered when supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the country last November 8, 2013.

FILCOLS executive director Buenaventura said “We want to show authors that aside from attribution, they should be justly compensated for the secondary use of their creations. This is the practice in many countries for many years including some in Africa. We are happy to make this a reality in the Philippines.”

Buenaventura explained “Attribution is the practice of properly citing the source of the work like the name of the author, artist, publisher, and others. But attribution alone must not be a substitute for asking permission or just compensation especially for institutional and mass use of the works.”

Buenaventura added that FILCOLS will locate authors or their heirs to give them their share of the remuneration. FILCOLS employees Ranielle S. Espiridion and Justiniano G. Eseller Jr. are helping to find copyright owners through contacts in the publishing industry, the academe, and even social media.

Authors who lost homes and records to Yolanda like Merlie Alunan had her check deposited to her bank account while New York-based Eric Gamalinda opted to have his check received by his authorized representative.

Three National Artists

National Artists for Literature Virgilio S. Almario and Bienvenido L. Lumbera were also recipients of the DepEd license fees. Almario’s daughter Ani Rosa Almario-David received the check for her father and another for Adarna House during the BDAP general assembly.

FILCOLS at the BDAP general assembly. (seated, l-r) Asa Almario-Montejo, Ani Rosa Almario-David, and Agno Almario (standing, l-r) Executive Director Alvin J. Buenaventura, FILCOLS board member Olan de Vera, BDAP president Lirio P. Sandoval, and Beverly W. Siy. (Photo by Ran Espiridion)

Almario is the founding chair of FILCOLS. He also founded Adarna House, the country’s largest children’s books publisher. He is currently chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language). KWF is an agency under the Office of the President of the Philippines.

National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario. (Photo by AJB)

Lumbera received his check during the FILCOLS annual general meeting. He taught at many institutions in the Philippines and abroad and received many literary awards. In 1993, he was conferred with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication.

National Artist for Literature Bienvenido L. Lumbera with Bebang Siy and Alvin J. Buenavetura during the FILCOLS annual general meeting, Recto Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman. (Photo by Iding Sy)

Selma G. Cortes, daughter of National Artist NVM Gonzalez, received her father’s share of remuneration. NVM died in 1999. As heir, Cortes signed the membership agreement and assignment of rights which authorized FILCOLS to manage the reproduction rights of her father’s works.

Mother of Philippine Folklore

At age 93, Damiana L. Eugenio continues to exchange banter with her visitors and even read legal contracts. However, a bad fall led to her being bed-ridden since 2013.
Due to her voluminous and excellent works on Philippine Folk Literature, Eugenio received the title “Mother of Philippine Folklore” in 1986.

Damiana L. Eugenio, 93, reads the FILCOLS contract for the renewal of her membership. (Photo by AJB)

FILCOLS membership officer Beverly W. Siy tracked Eugenio and convinced her to become a member in 2011.

Bebang Siy and the FILCOLS team composed of Buenaventura, Espiridion, and Eseller visited Eugenio and met her niece and caretaker Rose S. Lorredo. She has been taking care of the bed-ridden author for almost a year in their home in Quezon City. She said the remuneration is a big help to cover some of the expenses of her aunt.

When told that the Department of Education paid for the use of her works, Eugenio said “Mabuti nagbabayad na sila ngayon. Dati-rati kuha lang sila ng kuha.” (It’s a good thing they are paying now. In the past, they just use the works.)

IFRRO congratulates FILCOLS

After FILCOLS reported to IFRRO the progress of the licensing and the distribution in the country, Olav Stokkmo said “This is great news. The first distribution by an RRO is an important step forward in demonstrating that the monies collected on behalf of rightsholders make a real difference in their lives. It confirms that collective management in the text and image sector is functioning well in the Philippines.

Stokkmo is the CEO of the Brussels-based International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations, the main international network of collective management organizations and authors’ and publishers’ associations in the text and image sector. FILCOLS has been a member of IFRRO since 2009.