Jailbreaking not necessarily a crime: IPO chief

Posted at 02/14/2013 7:24 PM | Updated as of 02/14/2013 8:03 PM

MANILA – Bringing in books from abroad is not banned and jailbreaking an iPhone does not necessarily constitute a crime, the head of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said Thursday.

Speaking to ANC, IPO Director General Ricardo Blancaflor denied claims that amendments to the Intellectual Property Code will now ban Filipinos from bringing home copyright materials such as DVD movies, music CDs and books from abroad. The alleged prohibitions were cited in a blog by journalist Raissa Robles.

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.

Blancaflor said that in the past, a balikbayan bringing in 10 books from abroad could be stopped by Customs because of Section 190 of the IP Code.

Now, he said Filipinos could bring as many books as they want, provided that there is no copyright infringement and the books are for personal use or for educational purposes such as libraries or universities.

He also said he is even willing to send a memo to Customs not to stop Filipinos from bringing in books provided that they do not infringe on copyright.

The IPO chief denied that the amended Code states that Filipinos could be held liable for unknowingly sharing files that are “infringed material.”

Blancaflor said the Act to Amend the IP Code only seeks to strengthen the Code while protecting the Philippine creative industry. He said the amended IP Code sets up a legal framework that ensures due protection for the work of Filipino creatives.

He said this covers material such as local TV shows that are shown abroad.

“We’ve always gone after the same people, the pirates and the infringers. We are not running after the ordinary consumers. We are not running after anybody in particular. We are preparing the Filipino creative industry to go forward,” he said.

“Broadcasting is a related right of copyright. As Filipino programs and Filipino shows go abroad, we have to have some kind of protection when they go abroad. We are all in one having an international broadcast treaty,” he added.

Blancaflor said the amendments do not give the IPO additional rights under the existing IP Code but only additional enforcement powers. He said that under the new code, the IPO can make visits and conduct inspections.

“You know, we are reacting strongly to something that is completely false. People should stop, relax and review the provisions carefully. The amendments are all very pro-Filipino,” he said.