May 17
ROMANCING THE LAW: THE (LOVE) AFFAIR OF COPYRIGHT AND GENERATION CTRL+C IN THE PHILIPPINES by Jul Yan Marie C. Espeleta  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, May 17, 2013

We are the Generation Ctrl + C. We are the information rapists. We are the ethics murderer.

We don’t know how to respect writers and bloggers.

We don’t know how to respect singers and composers.

We don’t know how to respect artists.

Originality is an error 404.

In the world of information matrix, of 001 travelling literally on the tips of our fingers, originality is a page that could not be found. Everything is a copy of everything.

But everyone knows the line of the forbidden. Everything is a copy of everything—true—but everything is not a stolen property of everything. Every idea, every expression of it, every physical presence it occupies is bound by an invisible force field of propriety. There will always be an incriminating marks-manship of a creator. A sign, a line, a dot, a word—there will always be something that would set apart one thing from another. This is the genetic imprint of a work. This is what copyright laws protect. This is what our generation fails to respect.

At the height of power of the World Wide Web, nothing seems impossible. Laws are not virtually protected. There are no cyber police crime fighters. There are no immediate repercussions for the seemingly criminalistic nature of our actions. These are the reasons why it is easier for our generation to neglect and forget that there are existing rights for every downloadable information we come across in the world of 001 matrix.These are the reasons why we are the information rapists. These are the reasons why we are the ethics murderer.

There is no love lost between us and the things we download from the internet. We don’t think, ‘Ah, since this is not mine, I have to be responsible and use this for the benefit of all parties.’ There is no such thing as responsible internet surfing nowadays. We download, we distribute, we copy and paste, we burn—every data is ours when the transfer is complete. It is ours to do as we please. Only a flaming hypocrite would act otherwise.

It is especially hard for us Filipinos to consider copyright laws. There are no clear representations in our country to demonstrate the existence of it. Cyber Crime Law, you ask? Please. Cyber Crime Law was passed after our own political figure plagiarized a blogger’s statement of a national issue and failed to acknowledge the error of his fatalistic mistake. Cyber Crime Law was our country’s answer to such a blatant violation of the said copyright law to divert the heat away from the government. How would you create a country that follows the laws if its own lawmakers fail to uphold the same decrees they made? The sad truth is three-fourths of our population doesn’t even know the existence of copyright. The non-existent presence of the word can be felt in every corner of our country. Pirated DVDs in Quiapo. E-books and photocopied version of books in Recto. Ghetto rappers that steal melodies from popular songs and inject their own lyrics that can be heard when you ride flashy jeepneys. These are prime examples of the flagrant desecration of copyright. They are the thriving industries. You never see them out of business. You never see them declaring bankruptcy. You never see then taking responsibility for their actions. Artists, writers, composers, singers—every originator of an art form are vulnerable to theft in our country. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then theft is the highest honor we could bestow on an artist.

This is the true state of copyright laws in our country.

So how can you respect something that you don’t even know existed? How can you respect something that you do not understand fully? You can’t and you won’t. Not yet. Not at first.

There should be a clear explanation of copyright first. This particular topic should be incorporated in the curriculum of schools to inform students of the liability that comes with downloading information from the internet. There should be a well-defined demarcation line between infringement and transferring of files. These things are pivotal for the proliferation of copyright awareness.

But what about the people that actually know copyright? What excuse do they have for not respecting the copyright laws? None. In reality, we forget also. We are not blameless. Rather we are guilty. In fact our guilt is bigger because we know. We know and we understand yet we fail to follow. We have a heavier sin because this is not a crime we can justify with feigned ignorance.

If we conclude what was just said, does that mean, we can’t truly respect copyright? The truth is, I don’t know. We can try. The things is, it is hard to relinquish a habit that has been inculcated for years. We have been like these for years. It is much easier for everyone to continue being like these. The reason why there are pirated DVDs and books is not because people originally wanted to disregard copyright laws but because they need it to make a living—even if it means leeching off other people’s works. It sounds parasitic but this is the truth for developing countries that has seemingly lost the capacity to develop further more. This is the truth about the Philippines.

But for us who know, we have no excuse. What’s so bad about not respecting copyright for us is that when we violate it, we also violate ourselves and our preferences. Imitation is the highest form of flattery? That’s not true. In reality, it’s like cussing on our whole perspective on an artist. We are actually losing respect for the maker because we don’t think that person deserves to get the accolade that he or she deserves. When we lose respect for a work, for the person that made it possible, we also lose respect for ourselves, our views, our partialities. When you steal a work and claim it yours, it doesn’t make you famous. It makes you an invalid. That is you admitting to yourself that you have no capacity to create something of your own.. That is you disregarding your capabilities as a functioning person. Fame is not a heavy enough reason to become stupid. If we can’t respect copyright, we could at least respect the person behind the work. If we can’t respect a word, we can at least respect the work.

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