Feb 182013

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MANILA, Feb 15 (Mabuhay) — The proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code are still under review by the Office of the President.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said position papers of various groups opposing the amendments have been submitted to the OP for consideration.

Some sectors have expressed concerns over the proposed ban on jailbreaking, downloading and sharing music, and bringing home books and DVDs from other countries.

“Those are three concerns raised by people who are against those particular amendments. Those three are precisely the ones that we have given to the Office of the President, to the team that is reviewing it to see kung ano po ba ang basehan ng mga objections na ito,” Valte said.

The President received the amendments on January 29 and has 30 days to either veto the bill or sign it into law. Non-action from the President will make it “lapse into law.”

“Hindi po ito revenue bill, hindi rin ito tariff bill. So hindi po ito pwedeng i-line item veto. So either the President vetoes it or he signs it or he lets it lapse into law,” Valte said.

Internet rights activists are urging President Aquino to veto proposed amendments to Intellectual Property Code that they say will make jailbreaking an Apple device or importing books from abroad illegal.

Officials of Democracy.Net.PH said the proposed amendments to Republic Act 8293 infringe on the right of the people to import books, media and music for their own personal use.

Ricardo Blancaflor, director-general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), earlier said on ANC that the proposed amendments to Republic Act 8293 that Congress has passed should not be cause for panic.

“You can bring in as many CDs and DVDs and books as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of creators. This is a fear of something that does not really exist,” he said.

The IPO chief also denied that “jailbreaking” or tweaking any device such as an iPhone or iPad to run third-party apps is automatically a crime.

“No. It is not a crime. You see, copyright infringement under our laws – you have to prove that there was infringement. The mere fact that there was jailbreak or downloading does not constitute a crime,” he said.

“Jailbreaking is not a crime. It has never been a crime under the old law or the new law. The bottomline is – you have to have a formal complaint from the person being infringed and of course a finding of infringement. The mere fact that an act was done, I will not even refer to it as jailbreaking, it could be any other form, does not mean it is a crime already. If at all there is a finding to that effect, it will only be an aggravating circumstance but the main element of the crime which is infringing has to be proven first.”

He also described as “unfounded” fears that Customs personnel can now block ordinary passengers from bringing in books from abroad.

He said the new code actually deletes a provision on Section 190 that limits Filipinos to only three (3) books when coming from abroad.

“We took that provision out and now you can bring as many as you can as long as 1) you are not infringing and 2) they are covered by fair use. Personal use is one of the samples of fair use,” he said. (MNS)

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