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House approves bill for site-blocking of online pirated content; Salceda says cyber-piracy will kill digital creatives sector without enforcement measures

May 16th, 2023

The House of Representatives has approved on 2nd reading House Bill No. 7600, amendments to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, which establishes a mechanism for petitioning that a website containing pirated content be blocked by internet service providers. House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda sponsored the measure.

“In practical terms, it allows the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to receive complaints and petitions to take down infringed content posted online, or to conduct site blocking. The complaints can be heard in a simplified manner that also adheres to the constitutional requirement of due process – including means for appeal. And within five days, the IPOPHIL can decide on the complaint, and 48 hours thereafter, compel an internet service provider to block the offending site,” Salceda explained.

“One pirated content becomes viral, it becomes very difficult to prevent other users from accessing it. Copyright laws become impossible to enforce on viral content. So, the point of any intellectual property enforcement law in the digital age must be to prevent infringement before it becomes viral,” Salceda said.

Thus, the House tax chair adds, “it must also bear three key elements: simple, fair, and quick. Simple enough for complainants to access. Fair enough that it does not become litigious. Quick enough that it can be enforced before pirated content becomes viral.”

The proposal allows content generators and the concerned public to file petitions to block websites featuring pirated online content.

Salceda explained that under the bill, complaints must be sufficient in form, there must be due notice of both the complaint and of the conduct of the hearings therefor, there must be due notice of the final judgment, and there is an appeals mechanism in case the affected site.

Salceda also emphasized the economic costs of online piracy as the impetus for passing the measure.

“At the same time, I would like to emphasize the cost of online piracy. The creative industries already account for around 7.5 percent of GDP, with digital content creation contributing already as much as 0.46% of GDP to the economy. It will continue to grow, but so will the cost of online piracy, already estimated to cost estimated to cost around 0.12 percent of GDP, or more than one-fourth the size of the total digital creatives sector. Without enforcement, piracy will kill this sector in its infancy.”

“I urge the House to prevent this post-partum economic abortion and allow this very highly potent sector to flourish and mature. It was a juggernaut for the Korean economy, whose creatives sector prospered amid the pandemic – without face-to-face concerts – simply because it boomed in the digital space. Korea has some of the world’s strictest online piracy laws. Good laws lead to good results. I hope this body approves without delay a measure Chairman Marino and I believe will be a good law,” Salceda concluded in his plenary sponsorship speech.

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