Agency seeks power to combat online piracy
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) will ask lawmakers for the power to block websites that infringe on intellectual property rights, marking its latest and perhaps most aggressive move yet against piracy.
If Congress were to adopt its proposal, the IPOPHL would be able to order internet service providers such as PLDT and Globe to block websites with pirated content. The ISP would then have to block the site “within hours,” according to an IPOPHL statement on Monday.
The blocking would still be done through the facilitation of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the agency which has primary regulatory oversight over ISPs. ISPs, on the other hand, have the “ultimate [and] direct control in shutting sites.”
However, in IPOPHL’s proposal, the NTC would have to immediately execute IPOPHL’s orders, eliminating the review process that takedown requests go through under current rules.
“This site-blocking will enable IPOPHL to craft its own guidelines on takedowns, such as having ISPs comply within hours instead of several days as the current process would take,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba said.
“It will be disruptive as it will provide rights owners with the swift response they need in preventing further harm to their IP rights and potential revenue,” he said.
“Implementing this will also encourage copyright holders, and even trademark owners, to be bolder in filing complaints against IP violations in the online space,” he added.
A survey conducted in September this year showed that 49 percent of Filipino consumers still access streaming piracy websites or torrent sites, according to YouGov, an international research and data analytics group based in London.
The survey was commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), the trade association for the video industry and ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although it did not specify if this pertained only to Filipino online consumers, AVIA’s press release on the survey also said 47 percent of consumers who accessed piracy sites canceled their subscriptions to both local and international content services.
On the other hand, AVIA said Malaysia and Indonesia saw substantial reductions in online piracy over the past 12 months.
In Indonesia, a similar YouGov survey found that 28 percent of consumers admitted to accessing piracy websites this year, compared to 63 percent in 2019. On the other hand, In Malaysia, a YouGov survey found a 64-percent decline in users accessing piracy sites when compared to a similar YouGov survey in 2019.
“In both countries a key variable for the decline in online piracy levels was the government’s proactive piracy site blocking initiative,” AVIA said.
The recent YouGov survey also showed that 53 percent of Filipinos believed a “government order or law for ISPs to block piracy websites” would be most effective in easing piracy behaviors.
“As such, having a faster site-blocking protocol would not in itself be enough to stop piracy and counterfeit-goods selling,” Barba said.
“IPOPHL and rights owners would also have to act proactively and with consistency. Implementing a rolling site blocking would be significantly helpful in preventing infringers from succeeding in their next move,” he added. INQ
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