Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When I was younger, maybe when I was in elementary, the word pirate would conjure for me images of characters like Captain Hook sailing in them wooden ships. These days, when you say pirate all I imagine are stacks and stacks of DVD's and terabytes of downloaded watchamacallits.

The lecture of our guest speaker last meeting gave stark insight to what already is a pervading reality not only here in our country but globally. That the war against piracy is a failure here in the Philippines is obvious. Quiapo, Divisoria, Metrowalk, Greenhills and similar places provide a convenient venue where people can regularly and openly shop for bootleg games, movies and gadgets. This is obviously illegal, and yet we openly partake in this buying and selling of pirated material. While sales in video and music stores plummet, these pirate dens proliferate like termite hives. Raids by the PNP, NBI and the Optical Media Board scare off vendors for a bit of time. Go back after a month or less, and there they are again, ready to cater to your piracy needs.

I agree that instead of fighting piracy as our institutions have been doing, it's time to redefine our whole approach to Copyright. What does this mean, really? Should we give up on copyright entirely and surrender to the fact that no matter what we do our work would always be prone to copying and ripping off? Does this mean musicians and moviemakers are going to lose more money if officials stop pursuing infringers?

The outcome is difficult to imagine. I think this whole affair is analagous to having marijuana legalized in the Philippines. Admittedly, I'm also not sure how the legal system will eventually adapt and I'm curious how technology may be developed to protect a creator's work. But administrators and lawmakers ought to snap awake to the fact that traditional methods of protecting copyright have failed or is failing. Artists and Producers are now caught up in a torrent of change where they have to redefine their own concept of distribution and profit from their creations. I think this is a part where we do an intellectual somersault.