The venue was the Kalayaan Hall of the Club Filipino in Greenhills Center in San Juan City, the usual area of conventions where political forces mass to mobilize the faithful for forthcoming electoral battles.
This time specifically on Tuesday, June 17 another kind of force has gathered to lay out their battle plans against what is turning out to be the debilitating effects, economically and otherwise, of film piracy. In this particular instance, it is flicker piracy a system of illegally shooting or copying films being shown in cinemahouses through camera recording devices, from sophisticated cellphones and other recording equipment.
The gathering of people from government, as well as producers, exhibitors and distributors of the film industry, was instigated by the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council to intensify its campaign against piracy. It is part of the Council’s activities under its intensified Suportahan ang Industriya ng Pelikula…Sugpuin ang mga Pirata campaign.
Council President Ric Camaligan, also senior vice-president for leisure and entertainment of SM Philippines, revealed the staggering statistics. Without film piracy, he stressed, the film industry in the country can generate theater ticket sales of some P7 billion annually nationwide. But since film piracy became sophisticated, brazen and widespread in the last two years, revenues from theater ticket sales of local as well as foreign films could only approximate P4.5 billion annually.
The half-day seminar thus featured a detailed battleplan as presented through a powerpoint lecture by Atty. Joji Alonso, the counsel of the Anti-Film Piracy Council.
Atty. Alonso emphasized that the prime objective of the seminar is to craft a more effective network of coordination between the local film producers, the distributors of foreign films, theater owners and the Anti-Film Piracy Council, on one hand, and the Department of Justice, specially its National Bureau of Investigation, on the other, that will seek to arrest, charge and prosecute flicker pirates.
With an arrest-to-prosecute system set in place, film piracy is expected to diminish and this will ultimately mean that local and foreign films will increase their theater grosses.
Atty. Alonso discussed flicker piracy in relation to the Intellectual Property Code. She said that films or movies, and other audiovisual and cinematographic works are entitled to copyright protection.
The copyright for films shall belong to the producer, the scripwriter, the music composer, the director and the author of the work adapted into film but the producer shall exercise the copyright required for the exhibitipon of the work in any manner, Atty. Alonso explained.
She added that piracy is basically infringement of copyright which means that only the film owner or producer may make copies or reproductions of a film and all other persons must secure his consent to make copies or reproductions.
Atty. Alonso stressed that unauthorized movie camcording in cinemahouses theatrens the future of the film industry. It is particularly damaging because it occurs at the very start of the movie distribution cycle.
She compares the crusade against flicker piracy as fighting in the trenches or frontlines. The other phases of piracy are the actual production of duplicated or pirated copies in illegal warehouses and the sale of these pirated wares in public.
Atty. Alonso lamented the fact that it is already illegal to distribute unauthorized material but current law makes it difficult to arrest people caught with camcorders at the movie houses simply because there is no such law prescribing this as illegal.
Unlike in the United States, she added, where the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was enacted in 2005 which made recording a film in theaters illegal. The first part of the Act is the Artists’ Right and Theft Prevention Act of 2005. which increased penalties for copyright infirngement.
This act provides theater owners and employes with both civil and criminal immunity for questioning suspected violators or detaining them while law enforcers are being summoned, she clarified.
She said that the faster and easier way to put more teeth into the campaign against film piracy is to enact local ordinances since it will take a longer time and greater efforts to come with a national legilation for this puirpose.
She said that local ordinances will therefore serve as stopgap measures to combat piracy more effectively.
Three Department of Justice officials attended the seminar to express their commitment to the anti-film piracy campaign. They were Senior State Prosecutor
Genoimo L. Sy, Atty. Elfren Meneses, director of the Intellectual Property Rights Division of the NBI, and Atty. Roland Argabioso who represented Director Ruel M. Lasala of the NBI’s NCR Intelligence Division.
Attorneys Meneses and Argabioso assured that their two offices will be open 24hours daily to receives and act on referrals or reports of flicker piracy violations or apprehensions. The IPR office will take care of daytime cases while the Intelligence Division will receive nighttime cases.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, Usec Charito Eligir who represented Secretary Cerge Remonde of the Presidential Management Staff and Usec Robert Rivera of the Office of the Press secretary attended the seminar.
Chairman Fernando said that the MMDA can very well be concentrating on the illegal selling of pirated VCDs or DVDs on the sidewalks while the Optical Media Board conducts raids on malls and shopping centers.
Secretary Remonde, in a speech read for him by Usec. Eligir, said that the advances in technology have catapulted film piracy into the cybercrime category and vowed that the national government will be spearheading and supporting the coordinated anti-film piracy programs of the Council, the producers, distributors and theater owners.
The MMDA and the PMS have been subsidizing the activities of the Anti-Film Piracy Council for the past several years, including this intensified flicker piracy campaign.
Several officials of the film industry responded to the powerpint lecture of Atty. Alonso, including producer Mother Lily Monteverde of the Regal Entertainment Inc.; Ms. Selina Gecolea, chairperson of the Motion Picture Association of America; Atty. Rolando Dueñas, vice-president of the National Cinema Association of the Philippines and Mr. Valeriano ‘Bobit’ Avila, president of the Metro Cebu Theater Owners Association.
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