THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) announced it has issued rules on site blocking that the agency expects would disrupt access to pirated sites and will help redirect consumers to “legit” markets.
On September 20, IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba signed Memorandum Circular 23-025 or the “Rules on Voluntary Administrative Site Blocking,” making them effective after two months from publication.
The rules are a result of years-long work with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and several internet service providers (ISPs) “who refuse to sit down and watch while our creative industry suffers,” Barba was quoted in a statement the IPOPHL issued last Saturday.
With the site blocking mechanism soon “up and running,” Barba said the IPOPHL, as ex-officio member of the Philippine Creative Industries Development Council, is “ecstatic” that the Philippines now has an essential tool to protect professionals in the creative industry.
With site blocking in place, the IPOPHL hopes to “replicate” the success of Indonesia where more than 50 percent of consumers have stopped or now rarely access pirate services as a result of measures that Jakarta instituted in 2019.
“We encourage rights holders to optimize this tool and protect the value of your creative assets,” Barba said.
Under the rules on voluntary administrative site blocking, the process is initiated once a rights holder or a duly-authorized representative files a written request with the IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) followed by the payment of filing fees.
According to IPOPHL, the application will immediately be evaluated by an officer from the IEO. The officer is given ten working days to submit an evaluation report, which would recommend the issuance or the non-issuance of a site-blocking order. The recommendation should be approved or disapproved by the Supervising Director (SD) or Deputy Director General (DDG) within five working days.
As an exercise of due process, the blocking request will be served to the administrator of the concerned website. If no contact details of the website administrator is found after exhausting all channels, a copy of the request will be published on the IPOPHL website as due notice.
The website administrator is given seven calendar days from receipt or publication to file a protest. An IEO officer will evaluate the merits of the protest within seven working days to give the SD or DDG a final recommendation on the issuance of the request.
If no protest is received from the website administrator within the given period, the SD or DDG will issue within 48 hours the site-blocking request to ISPs, which in turn must enforce the order in 48 hours.
ISPs can disable access on either of the following: the entire Domain Name System (DNS); IP address; Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for targeted websites; or, through any other alternative means.
To effectively implement the rules, the IPOPHL signed last Wednesday agreements with the NTC and ISPs, namely, Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications Inc., PLDT Inc., Sky Cable Corp. and DITO Telecommunity Corp.
“Under the Memorandum of Understanding [MOU], [the] ISPs commit to willingly block sites directly upon IPOPHL’s request issued after a determination of violation, thereby streamlining the current process which requires the involvement of the NTC, the agency being the primary regulator of ISPs,” read a statement by the IPOPHL.
Meanwhile, the IPOPHL said a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the NTC “widens” the agency’s oversight to over 300 ISPs who are not part of IPOPHL’s site-blocking MOU with ISPs, obligating them to disable access to piracy sites.
IEO Supervising Director and Bureau of Legal Affairs Assistant Director Christine V. Pangilinan-Canlapan underscored the importance of NTC’s role in the regulation and supervision of the telecommunication sector, saying it is an “indispensable ally” in this initiative.
ISPs, she added, “are also critical partners,” saying they contribute their technical expertise to protect users and the broader digital ecosystem from online threats and illegal activities.
For her part, NTC Commissioner Ella Blanca Lopez said the MOA “enhances” cooperation within the interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights—where IPOPHL is acting chair and NTC is a member.
“This cooperation ensures a synchronized and streamlined approach in enforcing IP rights in the country. It is imperative that we work hand in hand to protect our creative economy,” Lopez said.
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