Online video piracy in the Philippines has become pervasive, growing to 20 million users in 2022 with revenue leakage of $781 million, according to a Media Partners Asia (MPA) report. “If online piracy is not brought under control, the illegal activity could claim 31 million users by 2027 with annual leakage of $1 billion,” the report added. MPA is an independent provider of research, advisory and consulting services across the media and telecoms sectors in Asia Pacific.
The House Committee on Trade and Industry in February approved the proposed comprehensive reform of the Intellectual Property Code, and a bill allowing the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to block web sites showing infringed content. Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said House Bill 799 and House Bill 7028 seek to support Filipino digital creatives. (Read, “House panel OKs bill protecting IP rights of content creators, creative,” in the BusinessMirror, February 14, 2023)
“Let’s run both horses and see which one goes faster. But we need site-blocking powers urgently because that will help put an end to stealing from Filipino content creators and creative. You cannot own what you cannot defend. That’s why these powers are just as important as actions to promote content creation,” Salceda said.
A 2023 study conducted by YouGov and commissioned by AVIA and CAP showed that almost 60 percent of Philippine consumers watch pirated content—an alarming number that has a direct impact on the Philippine creative industry and consumer safety.
However, the study also showed growing consumer awareness of the damage caused by piracy, with 90 percent of consumers believing that piracy has negative consequences for the Philippines.
The study also showed a path ahead with 45 percent of Philippine consumers believing a government or court order for Internet Service Providers to block pirate websites would be the most effective measure to reduce piracy in the country.
CAP General Manager Matt Cheetham said: “The evidence continues to show that site blocking, when implemented in an efficient and effective way, and ensuring the necessary elements of due process, is an incredibly powerful tool to both stop online piracy and protect consumers from the unseen harm caused by piracy, and we applaud Congressman Salceda for his determination to address the issue.”
Cheetham also noted that earlier this month, Senator Jinggoy Estrada introduced a proposed legislation in the Senate (Senate Bill 2150). “With the successful passage of Congressman Salceda’s bill in the House, we look forward to the successful passage of a counterpart measure in the Senate that will allow the Philippines to grow its economy and protect its consumers from online harm,” he added.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) earlier said it recently completed the draft rules on voluntary site-blocking together with local ISPs—the latest progress in its push for a site-blocking regime to save the Philippine creative economy from enormous revenue and job losses from piracy.
IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said site-blocking is part of the agency’s efforts to create an environment for a trusted and robust intellectual property (IP) enforcement system. “This is to assure rights holders in the creative economy that if they have issues concerning their IP rights, they can rely on an IP enforcement system that is prompt, responsive, efficient and effective,” Barba said.
“However, IP enforcement and protection efforts cannot be successful without the IP rights holders initiating the process to go after their infringers. The prosecution of IP cases is not automatic. Hence, we need copyright owners to be more aware of their rights and the processes to efficiently exercise their rights and seek redress,” Barba added.
Site-blocking is one piracy control that has been drawing national attention in recent months, given its success stories in slashing piracy consumption in other countries. It would do well for concerned authorities, particularly IPOPHL, to issue the rules and regulations on the site-blocking procedures, which will guide ISPs to block or prevent access to pirated websites. There is an urgent need to roll out effective strategies to address digital piracy in the country.