Mar 072013

MANILA, Philippines – Now that President Aquino has signed a bill amending the Intellectual Property Code, there is no more limit to the entry of copyrighted products into the country for personal use.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a principal author of the bill, made this clarification yesterday amid apprehensions raised by overseas Filipino workers and travelers that the new law bans the bringing in of products covered by intellectual property (IP) rights.

The confusion arose from the deletion of two provisions in the old law limiting the bringing in or importation of such products for personal use to only three copies.

The President signed the amendments into law on Feb. 28. The new statute, denominated as Republic Act 10372, was published in The STAR yesterday. It takes effect 15 days after its publication in two national newspapers.

Rodriguez said the deletion of the two provisions does not mean that the new law bans the bringing in of copyrighted products like books, music and films or movies.

On the contrary, it means that there is no more limit to the entry of these products, provided that they are for personal use, he said.

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The new law also allows religious, charitable and educational institutions to import more copies, “for as long as they are not infringing or pirated copies, so that more Filipino students in the country may use such works,” he said.

He added that RA 10372 does not criminalize “jail breaking,” or the practice of tweaking a communications gadget or circumventing technological measures.

He pointed out that what is prohibited is the illegal downloading of copyrighted works as this would amount to violating a copyright.

“Jail breaking is merely an aggravating circumstance that increases the penalty for copyright infringement,” he stressed.

Rodriguez said the other major changes in the IP Code include the grant of police power to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines. 

“However, as IP rights remain to be private rights, there must be a complaint from the IP right owner,” he said.

The new law also creates the Bureau of Copyright and Other Related Rights under IPO.

The bureau will be in charge of policy formulation, rule making, adjudication, research, and education.

 The law mandates the accreditation of collective management organizations or CMOs, whose job will be to ensure the protection of the rights and financial benefits of copyright owners.

 It allows the non-commercial reproduction of copyrighted works for use by people with hearing, eyesight and reading problems.

With the amendments, Rodriguez said the government’s campaign against IP pirates, infringers and criminal syndicates would be strengthened.  

“Ordinary citizens, like returning Filipinos and overseas workers, students, and members of the academe, have nothing to fear. The amendments are meant to protect the Filipino artists and creators, while making copyrighted works accessible to more Filipinos,” he said. 

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