Picasso had a saying, good artists copy, great artists steal.

We have been shameless in stealing great ideas “

Steve Jobs, 1994

( Interview about the creation of the Apple Macintosh )

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to,

and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40

billion in the bank, to right this wrong,

I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s

a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Steve Jobs, 2010

( Reaction to HTC’s 2010 Introduction of an Android phone that share the many features of the IPhone- Lifted from Steve Jobs Biography)

Steve Jobs’ statements on two separate occasions seems to justify the claim of the documentary entitled , “Everything is a Remix: Part IV “ when it claimed, “When we copy, we justify; when others copy, we vilify . It provides a rather interesting comparison of the evolution of man and social evolution as we know it today. This social evolution gave birth to the concept of Intellectual Property. It narrated that men came from the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) also known as the genes in our body and through the process of evolution, these genes copied, transformed and survived. It explains that culture evolves in a similar way; but instead of genes, memes, defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as an idea , behaviour , style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture; through social evolution, are copied, transformed and combined. Unfortunately, it further adds, these expressed ideas are regarded by our system of law, which hardly acknowledges the derivative of creativity, as distinct lots with boundaries.

Watching the traffic lights change color while waiting for my turn to cross the street the other day, I could not help but be reminded of the proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. It was mentioned in class weeks ago that it is only awaiting the signature of the President and I even remember hearing from our professor in Intellectual Property that if and when PNOY signs it into law, we should be afraid, more so, be very afraid of the would be changes. I had wondered if it had been given a green light or if the President had decided to give it a yellow status still.

Just today, I learned from the website of GMA Network that RA 10372 has been signed into law on February 28, 2013 after Palace claimed days before that PNoy was still closely studying the amendments. The same was transmitted to Director General Ricardo Blancaflor of the Intellectual Property Office on March 4, 2013.

Copyright is not expressly defined in our laws . Only pertinent terms have been defined under Section 171 of RA 8293. In the book of Funa, copyright is defined as a branch of that part of the law which deals with the rights of intellectual creators. The law protecting copyright is very strict since it endeavours to afford protection. More often than not ,the legalities of the provisions go beyond the comprehension of an ordinary citizen , making it difficult to relate them to everyday life, more so realize the gravity and impact of man’s unconscious actions in relation to infringement of another’s right.

History tells us that the Law on Copyright began upon the refusal of Parliament to renew the Licensing Act in 1695, paving the way for the presentation to the House of Commons of a bill which later became known as the Statute of Anne (1710) with a title that read “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned.” This is recognized as the first Copyright Law.

In the article entitled “International Copyright Summaries” by Kenneth Crews, it was noted that there are many differences with respect to the standards of copyrightability among nations. Germany is said to have high standard of originality while United Kingdom is regarded to have very low standard. The article further notes that the basic structure of copyright law in over 140 countries is shaped by the requirements of the Berne Convention which specifies that “Authors shall enjoy, in respect of works for which they are protected under this Convention, in countries of the Union other than the country of origin, the rights which their respective laws do now or may hereafter grant to their nationals, as well as the rights specially granted by this Convention.

An issue we all seem to relate to is piracy. I headed to Makati Cinema Square and decided to conduct a social experiment. I asked several pirated CD or DVD patronizers why they resort to buying fake over original and I got answers along this bend, “ Why buy something way expensive if you will only watch it or listen to it once ? Highly impractical and waste of money.” Some even argued that pirated DVDs allow them to enjoy many movies without having to spend a lot . Oh yes, we Filipinos love cheap stuff, the cheaper the better and even better if we get it free. We brush aside the labor that went into the making of the songs and the films and other artistic works of art because we argue that our everyday struggles are just too much to still care about the people in the upper part of the pyramid. The justification lies along the argument of practicality. At least that’s how I see it based on the interviews I made .

In recent months, news agencies have announced that through the efforts of the local government and the Optical Media Board ( OMB) , the streets of Quiapo and Makati Cinema Square have been dropped from the notorious markets list in selling pirated CDs and DVDs. But who are we kidding ? One only need to walk in Makati Cinema Square to realize that behind the clothes being sold are boxes and boxes of pirated discs for sale. The quantity has not changed, only the strategy has changed since they now employ people who follow customers around while whispering, “ Ma’am/Sir, DVD ?” Unfortunately, we seemed to have alreadembraced a culture of piracy.

For a non expert, it is easy to make stipulations as to why copyright is such a big issue for the government and copyright owners. For authors and copyright owners however, such a culture of mere practicality has no place in society, and such unauthorized copy and use of artistic and literary materials which are products of their genius mean millions of money down the drain. Under the amended law, the Intellectual Property Office explained that the secondary liability of mall owners arises when the latter benefits from the infringing activity, have been given notice of the infringing activity and the grace period to address the complaint and had the right and activity to control the tenant.

There have also been claims that piracy funds terrorism although these claims have remained unsubstantiated. But copyright infringement is beyond buying fake discs. Years ago, Barbara Streisand fans complained about Salbakuta destroying the sentimental impact of the song “Evergreen” by incorporating lines of the song in the chorus of their song “Stupid Love”. The reason behind copyright protection however is further than sentimental reasons.

In a fast paced and technologically advanced world, everything seems to be available at one’s fingertips. As potential markets expand, the expansion allows greater opportunity for abuse, whether we know it or not. For a lucky few , the internet is a stage and everything but a feared dungeon. Take the case of cover songs for instance where the likes of Charise Pempengco , Justin Bieber and the random girl at the mall got their instant fame. The formula seems easy, sing someone else’s song, upload it on YouTube and make people notice. Seems harmless right ? But since we are on the subject of copyright protection, it must be asked; “ Is it even legal to sing someone else’s song ?”

Section 172 of RA 8293 requires the element of originality to enjoy copyright protection. Section 172.1 (f) expressly includes musical compositions with or without words as among the works which need to be original. Given this requirement, cover songs , cover versions or what we popularly call in the Philippines as revivals become violative of the copyright law precisely because they are copied.

Another type of music which is changing the face of the music industry is Mash Up. Typically used to pump up the energy in bars, a mash up music as defined in Wikipedia is the blending of pre recorded songs by seamless overlay of vocal tracks. Sometimes, as much as ten songs are incorporated to make a single track making the original songs impossible to recognize. One may ask , “ If the original songs become unrecognizable and are merely used as raw materials for someone else’s creative work, how would it destroy or copy the original to the extent that it prejudices the owner of the original ? “

The basis of the argument in favor of copyright protection in this case is that though making the original appear unrecognizable, mash ups transform the works and under our laws, particularly in Section 177.2, the dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgement, arrangement, or other transformation of the work gives the copyright owner reason to prevent the change based on his economic rights. The solution for individuals who want to use samples of work is to license.

A famous case on copyright infringement would be Pirate Bay, the largest torrent hosting website on the internet whose moderators faced trial in Sweden after media firms like Sony and Warner Brothers sued them for promoting other people’s infringement of copyright laws. In their defense, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmsioppi and Carl Lundstrom argued that they are digital libertarians and that they cannot be prosecuted for copyright theft because the content is not hosted on their servers. The defendants were thereafter found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail and a $3.6 million fine.

Not very far behind is the issue of downloading. I personally believe the rules must have some flexibility with regard to this. The fair use doctrine is actually a very welcome part of the copyright law, until the amendments that is.

Let us examine fair use from around the world.

Fair Use as defined in the book of Funa is a privilege in other than the owner of the copyright to use the copyrighted material in a reasonable manner without his consent, notwithstanding the monopoly granted to the owner by the copyright. It’s earliest use is said to have been recorded in the case of Lawrence vs. Dana where the term was first coined.

Fair Use in Section 107 of the United States Copyright law considers four instances where reproduction of work may be considered fair. These are

1.The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

2.The nature of the copyrighted work

3.The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

4.The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

In Canada, fair use is replaced by fair dealing. The fair deal clause under Section 29 of the Canadian Copyright Act allows use of copyright material for purposes of criticism, research and private study provided it is done in a fair way.

The Supreme Court of Canada considers these six factors:

The purpose of the dealing (research, private study, criticism, review)

The amount of the dealing (whole work versus a chapter, a table or a quote)

The character of the dealing (single copies are more fair than multiples)

Alternatives to the dealing (Links or licenses available)

Nature of the work (limits how much to use through institutional policy)

The effect of the dealing on the original work (loss of $$$, reputati on to the creator)

In the Philippines, the Doctrine of Fair use is enunciated in Section 185 where copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship research is not considered infringement of copyright.

Determination of Fair Use must consider the following factors :

(a) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit education purposes;

(b) The nature of the copyrighted work;

(c) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(d) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


The amendment related to fair use , although more recent, appears to me as more backward than the old law I find acceptable.

Section 185.1 of RA 8293 provides that the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting , teaching, including multiplecopies for classroom use , scholarship, research and similar purposes is not infringement of copyright. Under the amended law, multiple has been replaced with the word limited. The lack of further explanation as to this limit scares me because it does not support intellectual advancement in the modern times. Most areas in the Philippines do not have access to schools, teachers and books. Far flung areas rely on volunteers or teachers to the barrios who more often than not cannot as well afford to buy books to distribute to students. This is where technology should come handy. But if downloading songs or books that these instructors or volunteers can carry with them and distribute to students carries with it a limit ans ultimately a violation and a sanction even for classroom use, what more will these students learn ?

Copyright is synonymous to protection and laws around the world change from time to time through amendments to further provide security to those who are entitled to protection. I think this is the very same reason behindthe passage of what is now called as Republic Act 10372 amending certain provisions of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

The signing of the bill into law was not well received . Moderators of the popular website Democracy.Net.Ph for instance issued a statement expressing disappointment over the new law which they consider flawed, against the exercise of constitutional rights and biased against stakeholders.

In RA 8293, Section 190.1 permits importation for personal use without obtaining authorization from the author or copyright owner provided it does not exceed three copies. Such liberality however is justified under 190.2 where the law reiterated that such allowance may not be used to violate the rights of the copyright owner or limit the protection secured by the act . RA 10372 is being frowned upon for the deletion of the above mentioned sections. In an article by journalist and political blog writer Raissa Robles, it was claimed that the amendments to the Intellectual Property Code especially in relation to the above cited sections erased the right of Filipinos to bring home music, movies and books from abroad.

In response, the Intellectual Property Office argued that contrary to the claim of Ms. Robles, the IP Code amendment actually gives Filipinos better access to copyrighted works from abroad since the deletion of said sections mean there is no longer a limit to the number of copies that can be imported. The IPO is arguing based on the benefit of International Exhaustion which is explained in the very same article

Another arguable point is the implied warrantless searches and seizures under Section 7(d) of the amended law which reads as follows.

SEC. 7. The Director General and Deputies Director General. –

(d) Conduct visits during reasonable hours to establishments and businesses engaging in activities violating intellectual property rights and provisions of this Act based on report, information or complaint received by the office

University of the Philippines College of Law Professor JJ Disini expressed concern regarding this extended power of the IPO arguing that in the absence of the need to secure warrants, it appears that victims of Intellectual Property rights violations are given more rights than the victims of heinous crimes. In addition, at sight it also appears to me that Section 7.1 (d) contradicts Article 3 Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution which reads :

Sec. 2. The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature shall be inviolable and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce , and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The amended law also seems to be headed towards expansion and not merely extension of protection. Before the amendment, moral rights are protected during the lifetime of the author and fifty years after his death. In the amended law, particularly Section 198.1 thereof, moral rights shall last during the lifetime of the author and in perpetuity after his death. The extension of copyright protection defeats the very purpose of Intellectual Property which is to allow the public to enjoy use of the thing formerly subjected to copyright protection after it has entered public domain. This access is believed by many to encourage innovation. While the IP law seeks to reward the creator of the work by granting him exclusive rights while alive, extending the term of protection long after he is dead, more so in perpetuity, does not in any way remain consistent with rewarding creativity nor giving necessary compensation. The law , by the time the work enters public domain, has already afforded the copyright owner ample time to exclusive enjoyment of his right to the exclusion of others.

We have varied reactions about the passing of the amended law but rules are rules and while we hope for more appropriate ones as we voice out our oppositions, we need to recognize theirsupposed value to society and to give our fair share to proper adherence and implementation. The rules of copyright from around the world all seem to funnel down to very basic solutions. The most important is to determine if it falls under the doctrine of fair use.

The website provides ways and means to stay out of copyright related problems when doing a film. These, according to the site author includes creation of all your own content, use of content in the public domain and use of content made available under a Creative Commons License. In case one still needs the work of others to achieve the films desired substance, one needs to abide by a legal checklist composed of getting permissions and clearances, checking for facts and fairness and making certain all ownership.

In light of recent developments in the field of Intellectual Property, it is just proper to ask, does RA 8293 as amended provide the necessary reforms to balance the ever so capitalist copyright law as we know it ?

I try to bring out my own psychological weighing scale. Much like Boy Abunda’s magic mirror, I venture into introspection and analyze the impact of the amended law to my life.

Will the reforms result to opportunistic legislation , trampling on constitutional rights and defeat of the very purpose of the law. At the moment, it appears to me that it will.

Do we need copyright reform ? To me, the answer is a resounding yes.

To be fair, I would like to think that perhaps this too were in the minds of the proponents of the amendments. Not everything about the amended law is unworthy of applause. One provision I particularly find acceptable is Sec. 184 of the amended law which reads:

Sec. 184. Limitations on Copyright

” The reproduction or distribution of published articles or materials in a specialized format exclusively for the use of the blind, visually and reading impaired persons: Provided, That such copies and distribution shall be made on a nonprofit basis and shall indicate the copyright owner and the date of the original publication.

Sadly, the amendments , in an effort to keep up with the changing times , got lost in diverging roads and took the road most taken, swift, fast, but nonetheless understudied. Should further changes be undertaken in the future ? Yes. I hope our lawmakers can sit down and carefully concoct a win win recipe balancing both the interest of the copyright owners and the people atlarge.

In an ideal world, information , music and other artistic and literary forms of expression should flow freely and be enjoyed by the rest of the world. After all, the urge to share is very natural. But that is not how the world operates. We live in the real world where rights have to be protected and where equilibrium remains elusive. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the need to recognize responsibility and accept accountability for our actions whether or not we are the copyright owner, the copyright user or the law enforcement agency. In my point of view, further copyright reforms will have to reaffirm the very purpose for the country’s intellectual property law which is to encourage the flow of artistic expression and useful inventions for the common good.

With the election season in full swing, it is with a heavy heart that I voice out my observation that the padrino system has devoured the integrity of how our legislators enact laws; where the I watch your back you watch mine mentality where the interest of the investors are highly protected is undeniable. Stakeholders seemingly become synonymous to stockholders.

I am not against the copyright law. I am actually for its noble goal of giving credit and protection where due. I hope better legislation can reverberate this goal and make it happen.

I am a small voice in Juan’s huge universe of complicated rules but I hope that Step Juan (one), my baby step towards my participation in better policymaking can soon echo the sentiments of the ordinary Juans in this country.

Sources :

The Historical Law and Economics of the First Copyright Act

Intellectual Property Law ( 2012 Edition ) by Dennis B. Funa


An Elusive Quest for Freedom ( MCPIF vs RA 10175)

It seems common among Filipinos who do not know much about howlaws operateto be overwhelmed by how other people devoid of necessary expertise interpret them. In recent years, whenever a law is passed or introduced, it is mostly objected to through a variety of reactions magnified and sensationalized by media through informal polls. Freedom or “Kalayaan” is such a weighty word for us. Our history tells us that our heroes have fought for it , screamed about it at the top of their lungs and lives have been lost to protect it . If one needs to be reminded, one only needs to think about the atrocities of martial law and he will more likely be convinced. Needless to say, we, as a nation highly value our freedom and would retaliate at anything which we feel will suppress it. Be that as it may, gone are the days of horse riding and sword bearing Filipinos who will fight to the last drop of blood. As strong as the idea of freedom remains, the changing times and the rapid change in technology have changed our perspective on freedom and what we deem as proper means to fight for it.

 Although most of us may wish for freedom to be without restrictions,  that is not how the world operates. With liberty comes power and as a famous movie line goes, “ with great power comes great responsibility”. Freedom coupled with power may prove to be a curse rather than a gift if unregulated. The role of government is to make people conform to acceptance standards which will not only prove rewarding to the community through attainment of peace and order but to the individual as well who will learn to be responsible for his actions.

 In modern times where technology is part of our everyday lives, where cell phones are as important as keys to one’s house or car and where most things become convenient and available by one click of the mouse, we are all the more reminded to be vigilant in our dealings. True enough that we gain friends from across the miles without having to set foot in their countries, or experience different cultures, learn new things through the aid of technology, we should not, however, discount the fact that criminal minds no longer just lurk in unlit streets in the middle of the night. Crooks now thrive in the world wide web and attack any time of the day, especially so if there are no laws to protect us. Online crime may be in the form of abusive online behaviour, identity theft, sexual predation and spamming among others.

 In the Philippines, a law dubbed as RA 10175 or the Cyber Protection Act of 2012 was passed to address these concerns. However, the passage of the law provoked an outcry for major changes. Those opposing it found most of its provisions to be unconstitutional. With a previous nightmare called martial law, RA 10175 was seen by many as the electronic counterpart, giving it an informal title of  e-martial law.

 In certain occasions, when somebody complains that a law has no teeth or that it simply is not humane, elders often react by saying “ go be a Congressman or a Senator and amend the law or make a better one”. Though technically, these two houses still hold the power to come up with laws that matter, I was surprised to find out that the ordinary Juan played a huge part in what is now Senate Bill #3327 or the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (MCPIF) and that it was not a product of the genius of the feisty Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. My research added another word in my vocabulary; that word is “ crowd sourcing”.

 According to Wikipedia,[1] Crowdsourcing , a term coined by Jeff Howe in his article entitled “ The Rise of Crowdsourcing” published in Wired Magazine in June 2006, is a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people, to an undefined public rather than a specific body. It highlights collective intelligence as a possible source of coming up with solutions to a problem. The term is said to be a portmanteau of the words “crowd” and “outsourcing “. The senate bill which is the subject of this paper began when so called netizens grouped themselves for a common purpose, that being the drafting of the MCPIF and made an open call for people to contribute. This call caught the attention of technology loving individuals from all walks of life such as IT Specialists, bloggers, engineers , members of the academe and human rights advocates. [2] The movement started in Twitter until the Facebook group was eventually launched. If passed, the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom ( MCPIF ) is the first legislation drafted through online crowdsourcing. In apress release dated November 30, 2012 posted on the website of the Philippine Senate, [3] it was noted that Senator Santiago said she was approached by a group of netizens with a draft of the MCPIF.

 The Magna Carta for Internet Freedom dubbed as “ Anti Cybercrime Law 2.0’aims to address the flaws of RA 10175 or the “Cybercrime Protection Act of 2012 ” byreplacing the same. The latter which remains under a 120 day temporary restraining order (TRO) due to supposed unconstitutionality of some of its provisions became asource of concern to most citizens.The MCPIF operated under four key principles; rights, governance, development and security. Section 2 of the bill declares the policy of the state with regards to the role ofInformation and Communication Technology ( ICT) in nation building. In summary , the state reaffirms its commitment to the people in crafting and regulating laws governing the use of the internet, recognizing the culture created by such devices and networks, recognizing the role of technology on economic growth and the development of human capital, recognizing how the internet affects  peace and order and law enforcement while also recognizing the potential of the internet to become a theatre of war and the vital role ICT plays in the flourishing and development of an information society.

 By seeking to replace the earlier law with the intention of providing a solution to what seems to be appear as vagueness and overbreath of RA 10175, is it automatic that SB 3327 is the better cybercrime law ?

The supposed clash between RA 10175 and Senate Bill 3327seems to revolve around constitutional provisions on Freedom of Expression, Right to Privacy and Double Jeopardy.

 Freedom of expression as enshrined in [4] Chapter 6 Section IV of the 1987 Constitution states that

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for the redress of their grievances.

In an article posted on the website of [5] Amnesty International , a movement campaigning to end abuses in human rights, Isabelle Arradon, its Deputy Director believes that the cybercrime law rolls back protection for free speech in the Philippines because under said law, a peaceful posting on the internet could result in a prison sentence. MCPIF aims to address this by upholding freedom of expression and deletion of the takedown clause in RA 10175.

In RA 10175, Atty. Harry Roque, a known human rights advocate and a professor of Constitutional law at the University of the Philippines (UP) , explains that [6] “libel committed on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other online content was made a more serious crime compared to printed libel “. He added thata person found guilty of libelous comments on the internet may be convicted up to 12 years in prison without possibility of parole, as against the penalty for printed libel in the Revised Penal Code (RPC)which is six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months.

 In the very same article, Atty. James Mark Ridon, president and general counsel of Kabataan Partylist, saw how flawed RA 10175 was. According to him, Sec 4(c)4, while mentioning libel in relation to Art. 355 of the RPC provides no penalty to be imposed on such offense paving the way for the basic rule in criminal law that no crime can be committed nor punishment imposed without a pre-existing penal law.

 On the other hand, the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom ( MCPIF ) is said to uphold freedom of expression by defining the exceptions to libel. Under the act, there shall be no internet libel without malice or intent to injure. It maintains that internet libel must explicitly and positively identify the person who is the subject of the expression. Should the law be passed, citizens can safely protest against the government and its public officials, criticize politicians and candidates just as the EPAL movement of Juana Change is doing, criticize NGOs, associations and religious groups or companies for bad service. A facebook fanatic no longer holds any responsibility for a PM later made public by someone else.These, according to the act, do not constitute libel. Furthermore, the law treats libel as a civil liability, not a criminal act.

The takedown clause of RA 10175 is deemed by many to be dangerous. As stipulated in Section 19, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data if found to be prima facie in violation of the provisions of RA 10175. This, for many is a violation ofdue process. In MCPIF however, no such restriction exists. In response to the call to protect due process, MCPIF prohibits censorship of content without an order from the court. [7] Section 8 (4) specifically provide that there shall be no compulsion or restriction to access of information on the internet except upon order following a special proceeding before the RTC of competent jurisdiction; provided further that the clear and present danger test is met, the material is unprotected expression under community standards and that the uploading or publication of such information constitutes a criminal offense punishable under Sec. 6 of the Act.

 Another constitutional right said to be protected under MCPIF is the right to privacy. RA 10175 permits warrantless collection of traffic data which is believed by some professors of the UP System to [8] devalue the rights of the accused as stipulated by Sec. 2 of the Bill of Rights which reads

 ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature shall be inviolable, and no search warrant shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

 Sec. 10  of MCPIF provides protection by stipulating that agencies and instrumentalities maintaining data shall ensure appropriate level of privacy. Privacy is also protected through the requirement to secure warrants , obligate notification and limit seizure to data thereby excluding seizure of physical property. Under the act, information may not be accessed without the owner’s knowledge, penalty shall be provided for transmittal through the internet of private data or public networks and service providers, telecommunications and other companies cannot submit one’s private information without his knowledge and without a court order issued after due notice and hearing.

What appears to be another point of confusion and argument is the subject of double jeopardy which is allowed in RA 10175 through prosecution of offenses committed against its provisions and those committed against the RPC and special laws even if such result from a single act or omission (Sec. 7). The protection related to double jeopardy in MCPIF can be seen in Sec. 40 (2) of the bill which stipulates that a prosecution under this act shall bar any further prosecution as a violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and other special laws.. This stipulation however, is not without exceptions. The act provides for four exceptions namely :

  1. ) if the act was performed through the use of a device, equipment or physical plant connected to the internet or to telecommunications networks, or in connivance with a third party with access to the same
  2. ) if the violation could not have been performed throughthe use of said device, equipment or physical plant connected to the internet or to telecommunications networks, or the said third party with access to the same
  3. ) if the act involves the transmission of data through the internet or telecommunications networks, or
  4. ) if the act is part of a series of or combination with other unlawful acts , these acts being performed without the use of a device , equipment or physical plant connected to the Internet or to telecommunications networks, or in connivance with a third party with access to the same.

The Magna Carta for Internet Freedom aims to claim its place as the better cybecrime law by providing Filipinos the opportunity to keep up with the challenge of the ever changing and fast paced technology which brings about personal and economic growth , relief and assistance during emergencies which shake our nation to the very core as well as mere enjoyment of the effects of progress while promoting and upholding rights guaranteed by the constitution and prosecuting offenders who threaten proper enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and privacy.

It further encourages the right to create though its provision concerned with copyright protection. Under MCPIF, a content published over the internet shall enjoy copyright protection as well as computer programs and software applications. Hopefully people will be more aware of the effect and repercussions of acts like plagiarism which does not seem to be a big deal to most individuals. The act stipulates that plagarism or what we Filipinos humorously now call “Sottcopy” or non attribution of content, constitutes infringement of intellectual property rights.

 The introduction of the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom ( MCPIF ) does not render RA 10175 inutile. It merely hopes to providethe nation a more carefully studied law which is constitutionally grounded. To say that is a better law compared to RA 10175 is premature at this point. While it may appear promising on paper, whether a law is effective remains to be seen once it is already implemented.

I am one with the nation in its effort to make this nation great again, not just in terms of peace and order but also in terms ofprotection for industries of the modern times which puts food on our tables.

 The more we find ways and means to support industries dependent on Information and Communication Technology ( ICT ) , the internet and modern technology, the more we entice investors to come to the Philippines . This in turn results to creation of jobs for Pinoys and lesser need to seek employment in a foreign land added to the much welcome economic growth everyone desires. The efforts of government and concerned citizens , if fully realized will elevate us into a self sufficient nation, able to keep up with the changing times while also capable of protecting our citizens from crimes and irregularities brought about by technology.

Technology has evolved and with this evolution came the challenge for people to keep up with the times. What used to be luxury is now necessity. What used to be yesterday’s super gadget is literally today’s second rate gadget and perhaps tomorrow’s forgotten friend. We work, ,live and breathe technology and such has a power nobody can discount.

Hopefully, with laws geared towards strengthening the capacity of the Filipino to reach for greater heights through ICT, time will come when we will find another kind of freedom, that which removes the wall which has confined us to being known as a third world country. Until then, I am keeping my fingers crossed.


Sources :

 [1] Crowdsourcing :




 [5] Philippines: ‘Cybercrime’ law threatens free speech and must be reviewed :

 [6] Lawsuit poised against Republic Act 10175:


[8] AKMA UP on Cybercrime Law: It ain’t over yet :

Have We Become Technology Lab Rats ?

“ I have to e-mail my boss and request for a paper shredder”, this was the very first thing that came to my mind when I first heard  about the Data Privacy Act of 2012. I got worried that my work in HR would get me into trouble simply because my “hand shredder “ is not designed to be as reliable as its  machine counterpart I felt the weight of responsibility placed upon my shoulders as a professional. A person’s application papers may not have as many pages as an autobiography but I knew it was enough to tell someone’s life story.   For a moment, I had to play a scene in my mind. What if   I don’t tear the documents of applicants properly after they leave my active file folder  and these  end up being pieced back together and misused. Will I be responsible for it ?  Perhaps my fear is much like those of the Facebook fanatics who feared that hitting the like button would put them in jail as a violation of the Anti Cybercrime Law. Such fear that prompted most Facebook users to remove their profile pictures and replace the same with a black page , as if weeping and mourning for the death of their right to freedom of expression.  To calm myself down, I went ahead and read some more. Maybe, just maybe, by understanding the law better, I’d discover that as great a responsibility as it is, I am meant to be more of a defender or advocate of the right to privacy instead of being on the other side of the coin.

RA 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 which was signed by President Aquino on August 15, 2012 is intended to protect individual personal information and communication systems in the government and the private sector. It is one of those laws which was seemingly given proper attention having been introduced only in 2011. The law requires both public and private institutions to comply with international data security standards while providing safeguards to protect press freedom. It stipulates under its Declaration of Policy that it is the policy of the State to protect the fundamental human right to privacy of communication while insuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth. But why is respect for “privacy” such a sensitive issue to begin with ? Is this goal even achievable ?

According to Wikipedia, privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. Wikipedia lists down  various reasons individuals may object to the seeking of  personal information affecting    religion, sexual orientation, political affiliations, or personal activities. These reasons include   avoidance of  discrimination, personal embarrassment, or damage to   professional reputations. To some, protection of one’s private information  means protecting themselves from the harsh realities of today’s world, from virtual prying eyes, from the unknown enemy distanced  by land or sea but kept close by the click of the mouse, from  institutions designed to make life easier and transactions faster but end up doing more than what is required of them, by making profit out of the information provided to them in confidence for instance.  Considering  the rapid growth of technology and just how easily the majority of the world’s population is able to keep up with the changes, is there any  surefire program that can for once make us feel safe and secure ? Or is it automatic that by living in this generation and time, we have unconsciously consented to become technology’s  lab rats ?This tug of war between  proper use and abuse of information  is what the law on Data Privacy aims to address.

Though encompassing and wide in scope, I believe the Data Privacy Act of 2012  is one of the bold moves of our government to protect investments in the country particularly that which currently serves as the bread and butter of most of our citizens, the BPO industry . As published in the website of the British Philippine Outsourcing Council, the offshore call center industry started in the Philippines in 1999 when cyber city set up a facility for outsourcing in Clark, Pampanga. The research results posted on the website further provides proof of just how large the industry has become citing results from the SGV Audit BPO Industry Edition  where revenues are projected to have reached  $12.2 billion in 2010. With the Philippines believed by many to be the home of language sponges who only require a month or two to assimilate a foreign accent  coupled with the industriousness of the Filipinos and the cheaper salary compared to other countries, business process outsourcing in the country shoot up like mushrooms. If  investors require proof that the Philippines can secure confidential information required by industries in their operations ,  then our government is committed to doing just that. In my personal point of view, this paved the way for the contemplation of some of the provisions of RA 10173.

Section 4 of RA 10173 stipulates that the Act applies to the processing of all types of personal information and to any natural and juridical person involved in personal information processing including those personal information controllers and processors, who, although not found or established in the Philippines, use equipment that are located in the Philippines , or those who maintain an office, branch or agency in the Philippines. The intention of the law is very noble and given proper implementation, I don’t see why it should not work , especially with the creation of the National Privacy Commission which will administer and implement the provisions of the Act as well as monitor our country’s compliance with International Standards set for data protection as stipulated in Sec. 4 of the law

The general rule is not without exceptions though. These exceptions include personal information processed for journalistic, artistic and literary purposes; personal information originally collected from residents of foreign jurisdictions in accordance with the laws of those foreign jurisdictions; information necessary for banks and financial institutions under the jurisdiction of the independent central monetary authority or BSP  to comply with the Anti- Money Laundering Act; information necessary to carry out the functions of public authority and information about any individual who is or was an officer or employee of a government institution that relates to the position or function of the individual.

The exclusion of journalists may prove to be a double edged sword. The role of journalists in the Philippines is very crucial. We love hearing the news and at times even, when we feel that the units of government who are supposed to assist us are just plain and simple incompetent or perhaps unworthy of trust , we run to the media. The media seemingly has the power to turn things around, to make mere news of the day into a trending topic worldwide. While it is proper for  the law  to protect  journalists and their sources by not compelling them to reveal the source of a report  which  strengthens freedom of speech and expression, these privileges given to the media are also subject to abuse. Nowadays, there is barely an item in the news which is not sensationalized.

If journalists cannot be compelled to reveal their sources and if in a sense, they consider and encourage everyone to be vigilant and be “patrollers ng bayan” so to speak, where will people who fall victims to these irresponsible broadcasting seek relief after the world has judged them. There is a saying that goes, “ there are things one will never be able to undo, and one of them is the stone after the throw “. It appears to me that since media seem to be all knowing and people believe them to be credible, the likes of  the lady in the amalayer incident and similar incidents are left with no choice but to shield themselves from public ridicule, just because people were able to access information in excess of what was necessary.

Juan dela Cruz faced with a new law to follow may wonder  what’s in it for him  and ultimately weigh if the benefits of the law outweighs the  rights that must be limited or regulated. In an article  dated August 30, 2012 posted by Tempo newspaper online, the Business Process Outsourcing Industry is said to have hailed the passage of the bill as it will bring the Philippines to international standard of privacy protection as much as work in said industry is said to involve confidential company information of local and foreign clients. If this law ends up beneficial to Juan’s source of livelihood, it will end up to be more beneficial to him.

Chapter IV which covers Section 16 of the law lists the rights of the data subject. Among these are to be informed whether personal information has been processed, to be furnished with such information before entry into the processing system, purpose and scope of the information processing, recipients to whom they may be disclosed as well as methods utilized for automated access, contact details of controller, period of storage and the existence of access and correction rights.

The aim of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 is responsible use of information. It is worthy to note that it does not prohibit the collection and processing of personal information. What the law requires as listed in Section 11 is the collection of information for legitimate purposes , its fair and lawful processing, the need for it to be adequate and not excessive, its retention for the purposes for which the data was obtained and for it to be kept in form to permit identification of data subject for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which data were collected and processed.

We have seen it in movies time and again, waking up not knowing who you are and retracing everything and later finding out that some agency has tracked you down, decided to experiment on you and decided to erase everything you know about yourself and the world. Is there a possibility of this happening in real life ? Maybe. But I know for sure that with measures such as RA 10173, we can somehow rest our minds knowing entities are compelled to protect our personal information, that we are given the right to have access to these information and that in case they fail to observe what is required of them, they can end up in jail.

The progress of a nation is shaped by many factors. Among these factors however, willingness of its citizens and its enforcement agencies to be accountable plays a major part. Whether or not RA 10173 elevates the Philippines to International Standards remains to be seen. The law is relatively new and I feel that the authorities meant to enforce it must be given enough time to implement the same.

Having gained a better understanding of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, I don’t need a paper shredder  after all.


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