Sunday, March 3, 2024

Local telcos ink pact with IPOPHL to put up site-blocking mechanism against pirate sites

In a move to combat online content piracy, local telcos Globe, PLDT-Smart, Dito, and Sky Cable have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to establish a site-blocking mechanism against pirate sites.

The MOU is seen as a significant step forward against content piracy pending proposed amendments to the 26-year-old Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, which will institutionalize stronger measures.

The milestone coincides with the Philippines’ Creative Industry Month, which celebrates the industry that the agreement seeks to protect.

“What we are doing today is such an important step in the absence of a site-blocking law.  We are no longer tied up.  We can do something about piracy,” said Yoly Crisanto, chief sustainability and communications officer at Globe Group, during the MOU signing on Sept. 20.

“Just as we have taken our advocacy to such great lengths, we’re fully committed to stopping piracy.  And hopefully, in the digital economy, the Philippines can start looking forward to a creative industry that is robust and free from all these challenges,” she added.

The MOU “is the first in Asia and second in the world,” remarked Neil Gane of the Motion Pictures Association. Germany had pioneered a similar initiative, where the site-blocking process centers around an independent entity known as the Clearinghouse for Copyright on the Internet (CUII) founded by ISPs and rights holders.  Notably, Germany’s model operates without the direct involvement of any governmental agency.

As it underscored the benefits the internet has brought to Filipinos, the MOU highlights the detrimental effects of online piracy, which not only harms legitimate stakeholders but also exposes users to potential malware threats and phishing attacks.

The MOU’s primary objective is to establish a voluntary site-blocking practice against the unauthorized distribution and sale of pirated content over the Internet and set an example for other stakeholders who are not yet signatories to the agreement.

It also outlines the general principles and procedures for site blocking, emphasizing collaboration between ISPs and IPOPHL, and ensuring compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Site-blocking is among proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code, with measures pending in Congress. Two bills are currently under Senate review, introduced by Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, following the passage of House Bill No. 7600 by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda in the House of Representatives last May.

These legislative efforts aim to refine Republic Act No. 8293 and empower IPOPHL to initiate site-blocking measures against copyright-infringing sites.

A recent study by Media Partners Asia has projected a potential revenue loss of $1 billion for the Philippines by 2027 if online video piracy continues unchecked. Surveys by YouGov also indicate that enforcing site-blocking could significantly benefit the Philippines’ P1.6-trillion creative industry.

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