“These staggering figures of online theft directly affects the whole value chain of the creative industry which is not just the businesses of video producers, distributors and aggregators but more so the livelihood of the talent and production crew who are mostly employed on a gig basis.”
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has launched a year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary, highlighting the potential of harnessing intellectual property assets as the country works towards economic recovery from the pandemic crisis.
IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba in a statement said their vision is “to see a progressive Philippines that uses intellectual property assets for inclusive economic and social development.”
To understand what and how important intellectual property assets are as a major contributor to an economy, let’s look at how South Korea developed what they call “Hallyu” or “Korean Wave” which, according to a 2012 report of the Korea Creative Industry, had a total value of $5.02 billion in cultural exports.
A great example is the globally popular K-Pop group BTS which produced $4.9 billion in sales in 2020. This is from just one seven-member group of a huge Korean entertainment industry producing content that has successfully gained appeal and patronage to a global audience.
On the other hand, the 2018 Creative Economy Outlook reported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated the Philippines creative goods exported at $3.23 million and created $912 million in terms of creative services.
When clustered with the Asia-Pacific this is only 2 percent of the region’s output.
But still, our potential is there because of the creative ability of Filipinos. So many have garnered international accolades on fortunes on their own with government merely playing cheering squad.
IPOPHL’s vision of developing a creative economy as a major economic growth engine will indeed start with the protection of the intellectual property rights of Filipino talent rampantly violated by online piracy.
According to the 2020 report by Media partners Asia, our already struggling video industry suffered P1 billion in potential revenue losses from online pirates illegally streaming their movies thru various platforms on the internet.
The legitimate streaming industry also lost an estimated P6.3 billion.
These staggering figures of online theft directly affects the whole value chain of the creative industry which is not just the businesses of video producers, distributors and aggregators but more so the livelihood of the talent and production crew who are mostly employed on a gig basis.
While the fast innovation of cloud-based technologies and digitization greatly lowers production cost and gives market access to all internet users of the planet, what was an analogue mode of producing video and audio content for more than a century has now become a limitless digital picking field of online criminals who have created canny illegal streaming sites to lure away patrons from legitimate platforms.
This digital phantom of a menace must be stopped if we are to prevent a collapse of our distressed creative industry.
In the latest published statement of CitizenWatch Philippines, our co-convenor Atty Tim Abejo is calling on the incoming lawmakers of the 19th Congress to empower IPOPHL with powers to “implement rolling site blocking to effectively purge online pirates who violate intellectual property and threaten the viability of the creative industry.”
In fact, we are the only country among ASEAN nations not enforcing the more pro-active approach of rolling site-blocking as an anti-piracy mechanism where access to a piracy website is denied.
This method increases the likelihood of pirates being pursued regardless of wherever they strike for pirated content.
This is possible but will need close coordination between government, internet service providers (ISPs), and stakeholders.
Director General Barba in a published statement said that “Site-blocking will enable IPOPHL to craft its own guidelines on takedowns, such as having ISPs comply within hours instead of several days as the current process would take.
“Rolling site blocking, as opposed to simple site blocking, will be disruptive as it will provide rights owners with the swift response they need in preventing further harm to their IP rights and potential revenues.
“Online piracy does a great disservice to Filipino artists and inventors by undermining their creative potential and obstructing their ability to fully contribute to the economy.
“It threatens all workers in creative industries, not only for what they actually lose, but for all other opportunities they will miss in the future.”
Enforcing rolling site-blocking will encourage needed investments to awaken what I consider is a suppressed economic potential that just needs a supportive government to boost itself and conquer a content hungry digital economy.
The success of our ASEAN neighbors in bumping out online pirates has yielded immediate benefits to the legitimate IP owners and stakeholders of their creative industries.
South Korea’s K-pop phenomenon is a good model of how government recognized a potential and nurtured a virtually non-existent industry to an international entertainment powerhouse.
I believe that we have an even greater talent potential that just needs the protection and opportunity to light up this digital world with our creative power.