Amended IP Code 'disadvantageous' to students, teachers, researchers – says copyright expert-lawyer Ping Peria

Posted at 02/18/2013 10:18 AM

A few weeks ago, writing about amendments to RA 8293 was farthest from my mind. RA 8293 is a mind-bending law. I was drawn to the story when my hubby Alan told me about a post written by Winthrop Yu on Facebook. Yu, the senior vice-president for advocacies of the Philippine Internet Commerce Society, said:

Winthrop Yu: "Under-the-radar--mea culpa, i didn't know about this until i got a heads-up text from Al. Can't find the latest (bicam approved) version, but a quick scan of the Senate version as filed...Removing DRM info is now criminalized, copyright holder rights amended from "50 years after death" to "in perpetuity"?!? Also, possible liability for ISPs and web hosts. Has anyone else been following this?"

Yu was referring to Congress’ approval of amendments to RA 8293, which only Interaksyon seems to have monitored. Here is a link to their story.

That was what started me wading through the legal jungle that is RA 8293. I had a lot of help from:

  • Alan who has lectured on Internet Politics in Berlin for many years;
  • Harvard University law graduate JJ Disini, who teaches Technology and the Law at the University of the Philippines College of Law;
  • Ricardo Blancaflor, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office;
  • as well as from two other senior lawyers at the IPO who asked not to be named.

I will try to explain and elaborate on what they all told me and they are free to correct me.

Amended IP Code has negative impact on education sector

But first, let me mention a very important update from a lawyer who has closely been following copyright developments here and abroad for years. Atty. Elpidio V. Peria is an expert on the subject and is the Executive Director of Biodiversity, Innovation, Trade and Society (BITS) Policy Center, Inc. based in General Santos City.

He was among those I wanted to interview on the amendments to RA 8293 but he was busy.

I’m glad that today, he posted on his foundation website how the IP Code amendments will be “disadvantageous to ordinary users, students and researchers.”

Atty. Ping Peria wrote:

"What about (the impact on) students and researchers? On this I remember my son in Philippine Science High School in Davao City who had failing grades in one subject once and when I asked him, he said he cannot cope with the reading requirements as they were limited from photocopying in their library the required readings in class to only ten (10) pages per day, the assigned readings are usually more than the ten (10) pages limit and the queue is very long for photocopying oftentimes he didn’t bother queuing. I raised this in a Parent’s meeting one time and I said that the school should prioritize the learning of the students above all else and the respect of intellectual property rights of the authors of books will have to come later after they have graduated and they can afford to buy these books on their own, after all there is a long-standing principle in copyright law called fair use.

"But lo and behold, now I cannot say that anymore as, with these amendments to the IP Code, the right to fair use of students and researchers has been limited. When before, the right to fair use to make “multiple” copies for classroom use, scholarship, research and similar purposes is not considered an infringement of copyright, that word “multiple” is now replaced with the word “limited”, and who sets this limitation, it is the Intellectual Property Office.

"The Intellectual Property Office explained that there is no problem with the word “limited” as they can set the number of how many these are in the implementing rules and regulations to take into account the concerns of the copyright holders and the users, students and researchers.

"But that is not the point of the provision of the law on fair use since the amendment shifts the power to make that decision on the copyright holder and the Intellectual Property Office. The previous wording of the law, the word “multiple”, gives to the user, student and researchers the right without even the permission of the copyright holder and the Intellectual Property Office, to make such reproduction or copying as that is the nature of the right of fair use."

To read the rest of Atty. Peria’s highly authoritative piece, please click on this link.