By William Mayo
Long before any modern international alliance for the protection of intellectual property rights, the Philippines had already recognized its importance and weight on creativity as well as trade and commerce.
As early as June 20, 1947 , barely a year after being granted autonomy by the United States , the Philippines had enacted Republic Acts 165 and 166, which are the Patent and Trademark laws respectively.
Besides its domestic laws on protecting intellectual property, the Philippines also appreciates the importance of intellectual property protection in international trade and industry. The country is signatory to various international conventions and treaties on IPR. On copyright, the Philippines acceded to the 1951 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. In the same year, the country was signatory to the Budapest treaty on the International Recognition on the Agreement of Micro Organization for the Purpose of Patent Procedure. In 1984, we became party to the Rome International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting organizations. In the foregoing list, it would be accurate to say that in the ASEAN region, the Philippines was among the first to have a comprehensive system on intellectual property rights protection.
Subsequently, the Philippines became a member of the World Trade Organization and was thus bound to apply the provision of TRIPS on or before January 1, 2000 .
On January 1, 1998 , the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (R.A. 8293) was signed into law.
As can be seen above, the Philippines, as a policy is much aware, as well as keen, to protect the intellectual property rights of creators of Literary and Artistic works, supposedly to also be enjoyed by artists, creators and workers of the film industry in general.
To date, aside from superstar actors, actresses and directors in Philippine Cinema, your average filmmaker, his lead and supporting stars, his talents and his entire staff and crew do not enjoy the benefits of this congress enacted law, and receive nothing outside of the talent fees and salaries they receive in the process of filming a movie project, despite the fact that after the silver screens of the cinemas, these same movies are still exploited and earn millions of pesos more from free- and cable- television broadcast, home video and other ancillary markets.
This is a very sad reality that workers in the Philippine movie industry must face, especially so because producers claim that the business of film production is far from being lucrative, as it faces problems of over taxation, film piracy, and the worsening condition of piracy in the country.
At any rate, it is undeniable that among the workers’ sectors in the Philippines , the Filipino filmmaker remains the most neglected, with no tangible benefits over and above his or her talent fee, even as movies are accepted as one of the most influential media of mass communication. Producers of Filipino movies now have the Optical Media Board of the government, as well as a privately-owned organization, the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council to protect their intellectual property rights. Workers, on the other hand, can depend only on their own individual credentials to be able to negotiate their pay. On the average, workers are generally content with what producers offer them, even when these rates are obviously inequitable. They are given to swallow the bitter pill of accepting just any offer, because of the sheer shortage of Filipino-produced movies.
All in all, there needs to be a study on the compliance of the provisions of the Intellectual Property Rights applicable to workers in the film industry, as well as their working conditions. This is required and needed, even in the midst of what is said to be a non-viable business venture anymore.
Without this, and recommendations on how the Philippines can effectively enforce the provisions of the law to its fullest, our workers in the film industry will remain to be among the most neglected sectors in the Philippines .