The local movie industry and the telecommunications sector, along with the government, have banded together recently to formally fight illegal streaming — a malaise that is now slowly killing the local film industry.
In a press conference held last April 20, the IPOPHL (Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines), the Motion Picture Association, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, local telco Globe Telecom, and Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council marked the World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) by formally forged a partnership to curb or reduce piracy in the country.
Reports say streaming piracy is spiraling out of control. The average user in the Philippines has increased their use of illegal streaming websites by 74% between 2016 and 2017.
IPOPHL director-general Josephine R. Santiago said this has been due to the proliferation of illegal streaming devices, which allow access to content found in the Internet like live media broadcasts or content-on-demand, whether free or paid.
While streaming devices by themselves are not illegal, they become so when they are modified through software that allows the streaming of pirated content from the Internet, said Santiago.
These “ISDs” have given birth to a nascent illegal activity of “plug-and-play infringement”, the IPOPHL chief said.
“Our enforcement division is intensifying collaboration with online intermediaries, including online marketplaces on whose platforms these devices are sold, to discuss preventive measures. We must join forces in making the public aware of the plug-and-play infringement that these ISDs promote,” Santiago added.
Lawyer Joji Alonso, a film producer and official of the Motion Pictures Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFPC), narrated during the press event how she saw her film being peddled in bootlegged CDs and vowed to fight piracy with all her might.
“Even with technology changing the industry, it’s important to recognise the hard work and depth of creativity poured into each film. It is not only the actors producers involved. A lot of unseen individuals, without whom, the work cannot be completed, are being affected too. We should protect all of them,” said Alonso.
According to an analysis of Alexa data in 2016, Filipino users accessed piracy websites over 22 million times compared to their 18 million visits to the top three legal websites for movies and television shows.
Yolanda Crisanto, senior vice president for Globe Telecom, underlined responsibility of telcos to be at the forefront of the campaign against film piracy.
“The fact that we are not only giving the actual devices, but also access to the medium for which users obtain the pirated content, gives us all the more reason to aggressive about film piracy, and access to illegal content in general,” Crisanto said.
Crisanto spearheaded Globe’s #PlayItRight campaign — a wide-spread drive against illegal content — cutting more than 2,000 illegal sites that hosted lewd content and child pornography.
Apart from the social aspect, accessing infringing content also exposes the users to malware that puts his or her data privacy at risk, Crisanto stressed.
Speaking for the government agency in charge of promoting local films, Liza Dino of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) said the declining number of people going to cinemas can be attributed to the spread of piracy.
“Admissions in 2017 was at 51.5 million. For a population of 104 million, that’s very low, about 14-18 percent. Piracy is a big contributor to the low admission count, and more so on the decrease in cinema revenues. This is a significant insight, especially as the local film industry contributes around P11 billion to the national coffers,” Dino pointed out.
“Even with recent legitimate streaming sites offering services to the public, online piracy is still a significant problem to the film industry. From 2016-2017, there’s a 75% increase in Philippine page views for illegal online streaming,” Dino noted.
The stakeholders present agreed that the entire chain of workers in industries related to film-making are suffering from the ongoing copyright infringement and piracy.
“Like what our partners have mentioned, this copyright infringement and piracy impact not just the actors, producers, and directors, but all of the professions involved in the making of a movie — from the musical score composer to the make-up artists and film crew,” Santiago said.
According to a 2014 study commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization and carried out by IPOPHL and other government agencies, copyright-based industries contributed 14.14 percent of total Philippine employment in 2010. In terms of GDP, the contribution is at 7.34 percent of the GDP based on 2010 data.