Home > entertainment, news, philippines, television > ABSCBN and Copyright Laws

ABSCBN and Copyright Laws

Last April, a blogger at byahilo.com accused ABSCBN show Boy and Kris of “stealing” and airing several photographs from his blog. Here’s an excerpt from the blogalicious entry:

…while at home, he decides to switch on his TV to abs-cbn and chanced upon the show of Boy n Kris which featured a short segment on the Pinatdos Kasadyaan Festival of Tacloban, Leyte. His excitement to see the Festival turned into horror when they started flashing photos.. his photos from his blog one after the other…despite having watermarks of this website.. the photos were cropped to avoid the watermark… when do they ever learn that a photographer has a mental inventory of his photos and can tell if the photo is his if he sees it ( and actually can identfy distinguishing marks on hid photos) . At the end of the segment no credits and no name of photographer even if the photos were clearly visible with watermarks of his website.

Here’s one of the photographs with the very clear watermark (also taken from the same blogalicious entry):

from Biyahilo.com

one of the "stolen" photos from Byahilo.com

According to this video posted on youtube, the blogger tried to contact the staff of the show and even emailed ABSCBN but was not able to talk to anyone.

As expected, the youtube video was attacked by die hard kapamilya fans who bashed the blogger. He was called a GMA fanboy and was accused of lying. But what bothered me the most were comments such as these:

anything posted in the internet without any copyright , and downloaded, is NOT considered as STEALING!

omg, whats wrong with being copied, everybody’s doing reasearch on the net, even an assignment, i guess , you should be happy sikat your pics…anyway, congrats…so small an issue

sorry to tell, ang blog, ay walang copy right law. kapag na published mo yan sa internet, magiging free to all yan. unless gumawa ka ng sarili mo site. tapos lagyan mo ng security. Tanggapin mo na! nautakan ka ng ABS-CBN. Wala kang habol…

sa pagkakalaam ko lahat ng blogsite ay free kaya anyone could download sa blogsite,at kung ayaw mong ma download ng kung sino man ang mga pictures mo e delete mo yang blogsite mo ok, asa ka pa..kahit nga sa friensdter pwede kang mag grabbed ng mga pictures kahit yong may ari ng photos ay walang kaalam alam coz everyone knows the consequences, you should have known better…gawa ka ng sarili mong website at dapat ikaw ang mag program ok tapos gawa ka ng security at copyrighted..wawa ka naman.

– usernames removed

It’s clear that a lot of Filipinos need to be educated about copyright law. It pains me that most of the people who commented on the issue treated the possible copyright infringement as a non-event and that one actually compared it to “doing research on the net, even an assignment“.  Plagiarism has been severely frowned on even before the internet became trendy. I shuddered at how ignorant the pose was when both plagiarism and copyright infringment were regarded as small issues in one breath (naku, think of what Ma’am Armi will say).

I took the trouble of googling copyright law in the Philippines and re-discovered the site that helped me through my media law course: chanrobles.com. I scanned through the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (otherwise known as Republic Act No. 8293) just to make sure that I remembered things right.

According to Sec. 178, “copyright shall belong to the author of the work” so whether or not the photos were downloaded from a blog or from a personal website, copyright of the photograph belongs to the photographer. Posting it on the internet doesn’t mean the photographer is giving away his ownership rights.

There is no provision that said anything in the internet is free; in contrast, it actually protects works that are made available over the internet. The only unprotected works are the works of the government (speeches, statutes, etcetera) and materials that pertain to “news of the day” or any legislative text.

Sec. 177. Copy or Economic Rights. – Subject to the provisions of Chapter VIII, copyright or economic rights shall consist of the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the following acts:

177.1. Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work;

177.2 Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;

177.3. The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;

177.4. Rental of the original or a copy of an audiovisual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or a musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental; (n)

177.5. Public display of the original or a copy of the work;

177.6. Public performance of the work; and 177.7. Other communication to the public of the work (Sec. 5, P. D. No. 49a)

– from http://www.chanrobles.com/legal7copyright.htm (boldface supplied)

If the byahilo blogger’s accusation is true, then the show committed a crime based on the Intellectual Property Code by using the photographs for commercial use without the photographer’s permission.  In fairness to the blogger, he wasn’t asking for money. Like most artists/writers out there, he would have been satisfied if his blog was even credited as the photographs’ source but he was denied even that.

A lot of photographers are crying foul over the rampant violation of the copyright law. Just recently, Pinoy photographer Anton Sheker sued Manila Bulletin for using his photographs in one of their Travel and Tourism articles.

Another recent violation of the law may be more familiar. Remember this poster publicizing Earth Day Jam 2008?

Re-worked photo on Earth Day Jam poster

Re-worked photo on Earth Day Jam poster

Apparently, the photo of the woman in black holding the guitar was stolen from photographer Alodia Gosiengfiao. According to the blogalicious entry on the subject, the production company which used the photograph was Dimitri Productions. This is what the original photograph looked like:

stolen photo

stolen photo

It falls under the derivative work clause in the Intellectual Property Code which prohibits the transformation of the work without the owner’s permission.

ABS-CBN reportedly negotiated with the byahilo blogger while the Earth Day Jam poster was immediately re-done by the organizers. Sheker’s case against Bulletin is now in court.

It’s a disturbing thought that media companies, both big and small, are seemingly unaware of copyright infringement or perhaps they just don’t care. Is it really that hard to ask permission? Most of these photographers probably won’t ask for money; they’d probably be happy with the credit. The internet is a minefield of resources but it comes with a relative disadvantage: a lot of our media researchers have become lazy.  Honestly, it should take a lot more than right-click-select to get the materials you need.

As for everyone else who consumes the media, it pays to be aware of these things. The internet, considering its reach and its power, is prone to abuse. Comments such as those made in the youtube site only add to the ignorance and mistaken belief that it is no big deal to steal someone else’s creative output. Photographers, writers and other artists post their works on the internet to share their creativity to the world (and to get some publicity). I think it’s just fair to ask their permission when we use their works for financial gain.

  1. August 8, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    thanks for the link.. can u please update the link to BYAHILO.com not BIYAHILO.com

    my domain has no LETTR I.

  2. August 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    btw, i just want to reiterate. i am not the one who created that youtube video.

  3. August 8, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    thanks! post revised. 🙂

  4. ordinaryreportage
    August 8, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    ABS-CBN has a warped sense of superiority. They probably even THINK that using someone else’s “work” is something THAT SOMEONE “owes” them. They have this “own everything mentality” which is why I am utterly repulsed by ANYTHING they do…. It not not beyond them to do ANYTHING ILLEGAL–that’s IT. That’s what ABS-CBN is all about!

  5. August 10, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    ok sana kung nilagyan ng abs-cbn ng reference kung kanino photo un galing. ah well, wala tayo magagawa. 😦

    ibc13 rules! LOL! 🙂

    peace out! 🙂

  6. Jabamaca
    July 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    (Clip of E-Live that used the stolen music)

    PROOF of stealing!!! Ninakaw nila ang music entitled Aerith’s Theme na galing sa larong Final Fantasy 7 para gamitin bilang backround music!!!

    (The stolen music)

    Di lang yan ang ninakaw nila!!!

    FF9 Vivi’s Theme, Steiner’s Theme, Tetra Master Theme sa Pilipinas Got Talent at Pinoy Big Brother isama mo na ang FF7 Advent Children Cloud Smiles…

    And ofcourse, how could I forget ang mga SOUNDTRACKS ng Warcraft na ginamit sa Matanglawin…

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