Rules to address online piracy pushed in Congress

Rules to address online piracy pushed in Congress

Struggling to catch up with the times, the Philippine government can’t run after online piracy since the law only limits its jurisdiction to unlicensed material stored in traditional devices such as CDs and DVDs.

To address this issue, the Optical Media Board (OMB) is talking to lawmakers to revise its enabling law, the Optical Media Act of 2003, so that the agency’s power could extend to the internet.

The current rules only allow the OMB to pursue online piracy if the server is located in the Philippines, according to OMB chair and CEO Anselmo Adriano. Otherwise, the OMB does not have the legal power to go after unlicensed software shared or sold online.

Adriano said in a press briefing last week that the amendments had been filed in the last Congress but were never passed in time. With a new Congress in place, the OMB is in talks with lawmakers to have the amendments filed again.

“[This will] really clamp down on piracy over the internet because this is where the fight is,” Adriano said.

Piracy might not feel like a crime to most people, given its benefits such as cheaper access to entertainment and software that would otherwise be hard to afford.

But downloading unlicensed material has been linked to malware attacks, not to mention how it deprives content producers their rightfully earned revenues.

“This really bears down on the industry, not just [the] software [industry], [but] including film [and] music,” he said.

Other than this, the amendments will also make online platforms like Lazada and Shopee accountable for transactions that involve pirated materials. This would make it difficult for companies to wash their hands of the deed by saying they were “just a platform.”

“The platforms would usually have this defense: We’re just a platform. But the truth of the matter is you’re still making money out of these transactions. That’s plain and simple. So you can’t escape liability,” he said.

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