By Tom Noda
Leaders of the intellectual property (IP) community are urging production companies in the country to embrace the digital revolution but create new business models as well that will help curb piracy in the Philippine movie and music industries.
Instead of just relying on authorities to capture pirates in a cat-and-mouse game of police raids and monitoring of illegal camcordings in cinemas, local production firms are being told to combat the pirates with digital technology.
Intellectual Property Office (IPO) director-general Ricardo Blancaflor, and Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) chairman Marivic Benedicto both made the call during a press briefing last April 15 in Makati City in preparation for the World Intellectual Property Day.
Blancaflor said aside from having quality talents and good law enforcement, “making new business models is the most important element” that the country needs in order to end piracy.
“Production companies would have to change their business models. We saw how pirates were able to profit from selling pirated CDs and DVDs. But also all over the world, we saw how others were able to react in the case of Netflix and Spotify,” Blancaflor said, noting the two companies have been successful in providing online movie and music streaming services in many countries.
Spotify recently partnered with local mobile carrier Globe Telecom, making the Philippines its fifth market in Asia. The company said it hopes its free and premium music streaming services would help solve the country’s piracy problem.
Spotify now has a total of 56 markets globally with over 24 million active users and over six million paying subscribers.
Aside from IPO and PARI, other officers and representatives from the Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP) and the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFC) gathered last Tuesday to renew their commitment in curbing illegal camcording and other violations of IP rights in the country.
The Philippines is one of the 187 member-states of the WIPO that conducts the yearly global celebration of the World IP Day every 26th of April.
“We must show the rest of the world that we are all partners in eradicating illegal camcording, piracy and other IPR violations,” Bancaflor said.
Meanwhile, Benedicto said PARI, a purely private industry organization, is currently working with iTunes and The Orchard music company, which operates a global digital and physical distribution network.
“We’re in talks with aggregators like The Orchard and iTunes. But what we really want to do first is to put Philippine movies into iTunes,” Benedicto said.
“There are a lot of adjustments, too, that have to be made in terms of the qualities of movies since there are certain requirements,” she said.
Benedicto recalled that so far, only two local movies have made it to the iTunes list, noting that pirated music and movies is still rampant especially in the provinces.
Benedicto, however, reported the Philippine IP environment is gaining ground against violators of IP rights, citing PARI’s successfully shutdown of Kickass Torrents (KAT.ph), a torrent site that hosts illegal music.
The case started in 2011 when the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) of London requested its regional office in Hong Kong for assistance in the case.
The site had over 8.5 million torrents and was the fourth most popular BitTorrent site in the world at that time. The site was previously kickasstorrents.com before April 2011, when it transferred to a ?.ph? domain name hosted by dotPH, a local domain name service provider. This was allegedly done to avoid domain seizure by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the USA.
Benedicto said the Philippine film industry will benefit from the prevention of IP theft, particularly now that the industry is showing potential in the production of more local films.
In 2013, a total of 300 local films were produced, which is a significant increase compared to the 30 films produced in recent years. The motion picture chosen for this year?s World IP Day screening, “Ekstra”, is one of these films.