Philippine Federal Police and the MPA Reach Agreement to Combat Piracy

The Philippine Federal Police (PNP) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have reached an agreement to work more closely together to combat movie piracy. The agreement includes influence from the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFPC) and the National Cinema Association.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Following the signing, the head of the PNP Jesus Verzosa said that home searches and seizures would not be enough to combat piracy and that prosecuting those responsible for piracy operations with more severe penalties is the way to go. The government of the Philippines would now be tasked to take care of the larger piracy operations.

As part of the agreement, there is the power to demand tougher anti-piracy laws. One of the laws being put into the forefront is a new anti-camcording law.

This particular point stood out to me because Canada was pressured to put in place an anti-camcording law which ultimately passed (Bill C-59 at the time) back in 2007. It was strange given that it was effectively criminalizing what was already technically illegal in Canada. Some wondered if the US copyright industry even understood Canadian law and whether this law was just something scribbled on the back of a napkin. Either way, arrests were since made against theater pirates who were trying to record movies onto their camera’s – under Canada’s “old” copyright laws. Whether or not this is the case for the Philippines is unclear. Whether or not such a law would have much of an effect in that country is also unclear.

The MPA said that the Philippines is the worst for theater piracy, but we’ve heard so many countries that are the “worst” for piracy, it’s difficult to really say for certain which countries well and truly are the worst. Is China the worst for piracy? What about Russia? Is a country in Africa the worst? What about Canada? How does countries like Sweden fare on that list? Who really knows?

Currently, fines for being caught in a film piracy operation ranges anywhere between 50,000 (1,109.88 USD) to 750,000 Philippine pesos (16,648.17 USD). That might sound somewhat reasonable until you take in to account that the idea for an average person earning the equivalent of $8 an hour is simply unheard of. The average annual income as of 2006 for a whole family was 172,000 Pesos or about 3,817.98 USD. With the cost of living being so low as well as the average income, that $16,000 (USD) may as well be 16 million as far as the average person living in the Philippines. What good is it to increase the fines exactly anyway? It’s like trying to draw blood from a stone, it isn’t going to happen. Those who are already dedicated to film piracy are already risking bankruptcy if they get caught. Raising these fines really means the difference between bankrupting them and bankrupting them.

Current prison terms for those that get caught is already six months to six years.

Really, the only thing that may be accomplished here is demanding the ramping up of enforcement. After a recent bomb attack as well as unstable peace talks with local rebel groups, it doesn’t look like there would be a whole heck of a lot of resources devoted to enforcement of intellectual property rights unless enforcement came from outside the country. It would likely be more wise to devote resources to keeping the country in one piece more than anything else.

(Hat tip: Gulli [German])

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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