Every year, World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) marks the ongoing impact that intellectual property rights (IPR) make in encouraging innovation and creativity. In the creative sphere, patents, trademarks and copyrights are essential to protecting the work of original content creators, enabling them to profit from their work and fuel their next big idea.
As part of the Philippines’ commemoration of WIPD, the local creative industry honors the genius and courage of Filipino men and women who are shaping local cinema, TV, music, literature and other artistic fields – those who inspire the next generation of content creators, raise the bar for these industries, and champion legal means of content consumption.
Filipinos now typically consume content through the Internet; and in today’s digital world, illegal downloading and streaming of content is a widespread problem that will deprive content creators of an ecosystem that encourages creativity and innovation. Online piracy will threaten not only the livelihoods of those in the production of films and television – actors, directors, writers, and producers, camera operators, stuntmen, costume and make-up – but everyone involved in the creative community, from distribution, to exhibition, television and online.
Protecting the backbone of the film industry
Research indicates that P2P file-sharing piracy was tracked at a staggering 502 million film and television downloads in 2017. While showing some level of decline, it is streaming piracy that 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.
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. Pirate websites have profited from content theft while depriving the actual creators who have invested heavily in the production and distribution of content.
“The widespread practice of illegal streaming and downloading sends our community of Filipino filmmakers a troubling message that Filipino audiences do not value their creative thinking and unique artistry,” said Atty. Joji Alonso, producer, Quantum Films. “As a nation of movie-lovers and story-tellers, we need to change this mindset that tolerates piracy as unavoidable and acceptable.”
For its part, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the main government agency in charge of implementing programs for the growth of the film industry, stressed the negative impact of online piracy to the economy and the lifeblood of the film industry. “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.” said FDCP Chairperson Liza Diño. “As the local film industry contributes P 11 Billion to the Philippine economy, there is still certainly much cause for concern. Studies show that revenues can increase by 15% (P 1.6 Billion) if piracy is addressed,” she added.
Internet boom and bane – prompting audiences to be responsible
There are a growing number of legitimate sources for content that are competitively priced. Filipinos have access to a variety of subscription-based streaming services available on different platforms. However, with the growing popularity of Internet-enabled TV, mobile devices and media boxes, customers may not be aware that devices are often used to access films, television and even sports content illegally.
“We must join forces in making the public aware of the massive copyright infringement through Plug and Play infringement that ISDs promote. We dread to see the day when theaters and televisions would be airing no new content--when filmmakers and producers would have lost all passion and interest in their craft owing to piracy. Let us not make this happen," said Josephine Santiago, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
The government, creative industries, Internet and telco providers must work together to find solutions to online piracy in the country. Major markets across the globe have implemented site blocking measures that have been proven effective in preventing illegal sharing and consumption of copyrighted content.
In the Philippines, Globe Telecom has been acknowledged for its #PlayItRight campaign, an initiative to help the entertainment industry curb piracy and protect intellectual property rights. Since its launch in 2017, the campaign has led to the blocking of illegal torrent sites, particularly those with pornographic content.
“As the preferred partner of several global content creators we want to ensure that our customers understand the value of legal content so that our network will not be used for illegal activities. Globe is committed to protect Filipino families and the youth, alongside our local and global content partners through our #PlayItRight advocacy,” said Yoly Crisanto, SVP for Corporate Communications.
Site blocking for copyright has been adopted by 42 countries around the world and has been found to be highly effective. In February, a report by Incopro on site blocking in Australia found that the usage of those websites targeted by blocking orders lead to a decline of 53.4%.
To truly achieve a significant impact on the fight against piracy, public and private sectors must come together to develop a customized site-blocking model against infringing websites, and establish legislation that will provide policy-driven action against illegal downloading and streaming of content.
The Rights Stuff website aims to inform copyright debate
To provide Filipinos with an online resource of thought-provoking information on copyright and the role it plays in creativity and innovation, the film and television industry today launched The Rights Stuff, a website featuring the latest news, trends and perspectives on the promotion and protection of creative content. The website features reports and opinion pieces about the local screen community, policy updates and other issues affecting the film and television industry, raises awareness about the Filipino creative community and the shows they produce, and aims to encourage audiences to access only legitimate content. Check out the The Rights Stuff at www.therightsstuff.film.