Stronger Copyright Laws Needed - Villar

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MANILA, Philippines - The government should act to protect intellectual property rights (IFR) which will greatly work for the benefit of Filipinos who excel in various fields that rely on copyrighted protection, according to Sen. Manny Villar. "We must act now to respond to the onslaught of criminal activity happening under our noses, at the expense of our brilliant and creative human resources. We owe it to our artists, composers, writers, designers, programmers, scientists, animators and Filipino professionals to protect their body of work against copyright infringement," Villar said. He made the challenge in his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 284 which seeks to amend Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. Villar cited the case of Freddie Aguilar, composer of the very popular song "Anak." Aguilar reportedly assigned all his rights to a music publisher, who now earns royalties for the song's exploitation by third parties. In June 2001, Aguilar was arrested and charged with copyright infringement for the song that he himself composed and popularized. To this day, the case has not been resolved and is pending in court. Villar also referred to the experience of National Artist Levi Celerio, who wrote over 4,000 songs, including Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, Ikaw, Bakya Mo Neneng, etc. Despite the thousands of musical compositions he wrote which should have earned millions in royalties, he died poor. Villar said the issue of copyright is paramount as copyright-based industries (CBIs) significantly affect the nation's economy. According to a study commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in the early 2000s, CBIs contribute almost five percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a private sector coalition of trade associations in copyright-based industries in the United States, recommends the Philippines and 12 other countries to be placed in the Priority Watch List of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) 2011 Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). …