Thursday, August 14, 2014

Int’l meet to make book thieves think twice

Book thieves, such as those photocopying and scanning whole textbooks and selling them as “book alikes,” may have to think twice about their lucrative business in and around educational institutions.

“Copy & Repro,” an international conference on intellectual property policies and copyright licensing for schools and universities at the 35th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), will gather international and local experts to discuss the implications of Republic Act 10372 on book piracy and the mandatory crafting of intellectual property (IP) policies for schools and universities.

A whole-day special event at MIBF, “Copy & Repro” is organized by Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS) and will be held on September 19 at the Function Room 2, SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.

FILCOLS’ partner organizations for the event are Intellectual Property (IP) Philippines, the National Book Development Board (NBDB), Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), and the Brussels-based International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO).

IP Philippines director general Ricardo R. Blancaflor will deliver the keynote address, “Keeping the Philippines Off the USTR’s Watch List.”

The Intellectual Property Office (IP Philippines), under director general Blancaflor, and the National Committee on IPR (NCIPR), were instrumental in removing the Philippines from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Watch List this year. The country has been on the watch list for the past 20 years.

Book piracy, online and offline, and including the making of “book alikes,” is still rampant in the Philippines and was one of the reasons why the country was included in the US watch list. The Philippines’ removal in the watch list does not mean it has eradicated book piracy. IP Philippines and its partners in government and in the private sector must continue to set-up effective mechanisms to protect IPRs including combatting book piracy.

Prospective participants are requested to register early because of limited slots. Deadline for registration is on September 5, 2014.

Conference fees cover morning and afternoon snacks, lunch, certificate of participation, and conference kit. Regular rate is PHP 1,500.00. Discounted rate is PHP 1,200.00 for SUCs and for groups of three (3) or more participants from the same institution.

For more details and to know how to register, please visit or call Ms. Ran Espiridion at telefax (632) 439-2204 or email

Monday, August 11, 2014

Copyright is a human right

“Respect for copyright is respect for the human rights of authors,” said Alvin J. Buenaventura, executive director of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), before some delegates of the De la Salle University (DLSU) Student Media Congress last July 26.

Alvin J. Buenaventura
Buenaventura’s talk “Copyright made easy: 10 FAQs on Copyright” explained the basics of copyright without the legal jargon. He spoke in Filipino and used everyday examples the listeners are familiar with to make the concepts easy to understand.
After the opening and plenary sessions on July 25, the delegates signed up to different workshops happening in different venues at the DLSU campus on SMC’s second day.

DLSU Yuchengco Hall, venue of the FILCOLS workshop "Beyond the Grave: Copyright for Young Authors" and other SMC workshops.

Copyright: Pwede siyang ipamana

“Beyond the Grave: Copyright for Young Authors” is one of the workshops designed for photographers, writers, and artists held at Room Y507, Yuchengco Hall. The focus is on the property aspect of copyright and the fact that like land “pwede siyang ipamana.” Copyright can be inherited. Copyright can be transferred to a son, daughter, or parent by inheritance.

Buenaventura explained that copyright is a bundle of rights made up of moral rights and material rights (or economic rights). Moral rights refer to the right of the author to put his/her name on the work and authorize changes to it. Material rights refer to the right of the author to earn from what s/he produced.

The audience is made up of teachers, college, and high school students from different schools.

International documents and Philippine laws

To support his claim that copyright is a human right, he cited international documents which influenced the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (IP Code or Republic Act 8293 as amended)

The international documents are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

UDHR is the common declaration for what humanity aspires for. It is not an international treaty but is very influential in the creation of international and local laws on fundamental human rights.

ICESCR is an international treaty and enshrines some of the principles of the UDHR.

“We are aware of the other voices in the debate which say that copyright should not be elevated to the status of human rights and should remain as IP rights,” Buenaventura said. But we strongly support the view that copyright is a human right.

(l-r) FILCOLS staff Ricol Eseller, DLSU student Yeoj Magno, and author Bebang Siy.

Right to work and just remuneration in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

From article 23 of the UDHR, we read the right to work, free choice of work, and just remuneration so the worker and his/her family can live a life worthy of human dignity.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

DLSU students Jah Rosales, Mikhail Padilla, and Yeoj Magno.

Right to work and just remuneration in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The “right to work,” “just remuneration,” “a decent living for themselves and their families,” and “right to form… and join trade unions…for the promotion and protection of his economic and social interests” are echoed in articles 6, 7, and 8 of ICESR.

Delegates from various schools. (First row, l-r) Adamson University delegates Franz Enriquez, Jan Súen, and --. (Second row, l-r) St. Paul's College of Makati delegate Ariane Lazaga, Mary Immaculate Parish Special School delegates Bella Corazon Tejano and Julia Buenafe. (Third row) Malayan College Laguna delegate Japs Concepcion. (Last row) DLSU delegate Marielle Zagada.

Fundamental law in the Philippines

The 1987 Philippine Constitution states:
“The State shall protect and secure the exclusive rights of scientists, inventors, artists, and other gifted citizens to their intellectual property and creations, particularly when beneficial to the people for such period as may be provided by law.” (Sec. 3, Article XIV)

Copyright law in the Philippines: economic (material) and moral rights

The IP Code (Republic Act 8293 as amended) states:
“The owners of copyright and related rights or their heirs may designate a society of artists, writers, composers, and other right-holders to collectively manage their economic or moral rights on their behalf. For said societies to enforce the rights of their members, they shall first secure the necessary accreditation from the Intellectual Property Office.” (Sec. 183)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: moral and material (economic) interests

The UDHR states:
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary, or artistic production of which s/he is the author.” (Art. 27.2)

Other delegates were from high schools in nearby cities.

Manual workers and intellectual workers

Like manual workers, authors of scientific, literary, and artistic works are also workers. Authors are intellectual workers producing “cultural products.”

Like manual workers, authors (writers and artists) have the right to work and receive just remuneration. They have the right to choose to work as writers or artists.

Like manual workers, writers and artists have to fend for themselves and care for their families.

Manual workers have a right to form unions to promote and protect their economic and social interests. Authors (intellectual workers) have a right to form “unions” or societies “to collectively manage their economic (material) or moral rights.”

Minimum wage, just remuneration to have an existence worthy of human dignity

Companies who fail to give the minimum wage violate the human rights of workers because it affects the livelihood of real people. 

Copyright is a human right

If we look at writers and artists as intellectual workers deserving just remuneration for their cultural products so they can ensure for themselves and their families “an existence worthy of human dignity” then it’s easier see that copyright is a human right.

Author Bebang Siy.

The second part of the workshop was handled by author Bebang Siy

As a single mother, Siy supported herself and her son through her writings for years. She wrote for various magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and websites to earn a living. Together with college friends, she wrote horror stories and inspirational stories for a local trade books publisher. At one time, she also wrote erotic literature under a pseudonym. (Siy was married only recently)

She encouraged the young writers with her own journey as an author. 

Some of Bebang Siy's works.

From working student to working as a writer

Siy said “Hindi madali maging manunulat. At hindi instant maging manunulat. Nag-aral ako ng Malikhaing Pagsulat sa UP Diliman. Natapos akong cum laude habang nagta-trabaho. Kumuha rin ako ng Masters sa Malikhaing Pagsulat.”  (Its not easy to become a writer. You don’t instantly become a writer. I studied Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I graduated cum laude while working. I also took Masters in Creative Writing.)

Hone writing skills through workshops and lots of reading

She added “Maraming workshops ang sinalihan ko para mahasa ang aking pagsulat. Marami rin akong ginastos para makabili ng mga librong dapat basahin. Para maging magaling kang manunulat, dapat ay masipag ka ring magbasa.” (I joined a lot of workshops to hone my writing skills. I spent a lot on relevant books. You should be a voracious reader if you want to become a good writer.)

Don’t sell all your copyright

She encouraged the delegates to do what they love: take photos, create videos, or produce literary outputs. “But remember that the copyright to your work is your lifetime plus 50 years after your death. The protection is very long. The potential to earn is very long. Remember copyright is a bundle of rights. So don’t just sell all copyright to any publisher who likes to publish your work,” she warned the young listeners.

Depriving her of royalties affect her ability to provide for herself and her son

As explained by Siy, it took many years and money to hone her writing skills. She invested in her own craft. People who use her work should pay just remuneration. The publisher should pay her proper royalties. If she is deprived of her right to earn from what she produced, then it affects her livelihood and her capacity to provide for herself and her son.

Siy is producing works and she deserve to earn from her copyright. Depriving her of right to earn is a violation to her right to provide an "existence worthy of human dignity" to herself and her son. Copyright is a human right.

Thus, when end users or consumers of photos, films, or literary works fail to pay properly they affect the livelihood of real people. Failure to provide just remuneration to authors and artists is a violation their human rights.

Solar News video editor Pocholo Felix asks questions on social networks and copyright.

The open forum discussed web publishing, social networks, fair use

Web publishers’ who disregard the livelihood of writers and photographers are engaging in slavery

Web publishers who do not pay their writers or photographers violate human rights. The abuse becomes glaring when the web publishers themselves receive payment from their client corporations. These web publishers’ lack of regard for the livelihood of authors may be a form of modern slavery.

Bebang Siy receiving her certificate of appreciation from SMC's Cloie Mananquil

Social networks are in the territory of the public but the works posted or uploaded are not in the public domain

Photos or videos uploaded or articles or literary works posted on social networks is available to the public to be seen or shared. To upload or post works online means the public can easily access it. 

Works publicly seen or shared on social networks may be said to be in the domain (or territory) of the public.

However, “public domain” is not the same as “in the domain of the public.”

Public domain is a law-created world where works with expired copyright are placed along with works that did not have any copyright to begin with (like works of the government).

Works in the public domain may be freely used. Anyone can make money from these works like producing movies or TV series of Sherlock Holmes.

But works posted or uploaded on social networks are protected by copyright. It is in the territory of the public but it is not in the public domain. Thus, photos, videos, articles or literary works on social networks should be respected.

Copyright protection extends to works posted or uploaded on social networks. Copyright extends to the internet. One should not re-use these works like re-publishing them on a website or through physical publication like a magazine or book without first asking permission from the author or copyright owner.

Alvin J. Buenaventura receiving his certificate of appreciation from SMC's Cloie Mananquil.

Fair Use

There are exceptions to the exclusive rights of authors. This is where fair use comes in. For a clear explanation of fair use in relation to massive photocopying and scanning, please read Dr. Isagani R. Cruz’s column “Criminals in the classroom.”

Giving away one’s work for free

Since authors have the exclusive right to their works (meaning they are the only authority when it comes to their works), they may give their works away for free. And no one, not even the law, is stopping them from giving their works for free.

Some authors give away their works for free similar to the marketing style of “free taste” in supermarkets. But the ultimate aim is to whet the appetite of the consumers so they will buy in the future. After all, we should think of the livelihood of others. They need to earn like everyone else.

However, one should not give away other people’s works for free unless the author gave him or her authority to do so. One should not be generous with the property of others.

Workshop facilitators and participants for Beyond the Grave: Copyright for Young Authors.
FILCOLS expresses its gratitude to Joanna Queddeng of the DLSU - Student Media Office, DLSU students Isabel Biyo (AB OC), Maria Insigne (AB CA), and Cloie Mananquil (AB OC).

Text by Alvin J. Buenaventura. Photos by Ran Espiridion and SMC photographer. The article may be re-posted as long as the authors are acknowledged.