The concept of piracy has evolved from the 1500s in the Atlantic to its mainstream 21st century equivalent. In a world where the “intangibles” (i.e. copyright, patent) form an integral part of the economy, it is inevitable that the shift in piracy has taken new grounds.
From the good old-fashioned gold to merchandise for trade, the hot item in terms of piracy today, especially in the Philippines is the piracy of copyrighted material – from movies, software to music. From the MRT station to Makati Cinema Square to old school Quiapo, the pirated copies are everywhere. From the recent Cannes Film or Venice Film Festival entries to the uber popular Twilight series, name it and they have it.
For the old media, this is indeed a serious problem. The basic premise for the problem of movie piracy is that if you want to enjoy entertainment, you have to pay. For them, people who do not want to pay the exorbitant prices of DVDs, cinemas and music are cheapstakes who simply do not want to pay. Multi-million firms claim that artists suffer, that the government loses income because of unpaid taxes generated by this underground trade. Moreover, film quality may become compromised.
My heart goes to those multi-billion corporations. Surely, they have the right to earn billions for their firms. After all, we are in a democratic setting. One has the right to maintain its profits for the year, because you see, that very nice vacation spot in St. Barts or in Monaco is not going to maintain itself. Furthermore, it is said that the use of Intellectual Property Law should promote and protect the artist/creator’s rights, both personal and economic. The copyright protection given to them should ensure his attainment of some form of personal satisfaction and economic reward from the work he produced. *
But how about Mr. Magbabalot who can only afford to buy those bootleg DVDs to get a piece of entertainment? Or how about Mr./Ms.Sidewalk vendor who has no other choice but to buy pirated copies of Filipino Movies produced by film outfits that insist on giving us same old plot every December in the Metro Manila Film Festival? Should we demand that they pay for the original version, which is roughly about 1000 pesos? Or should we just tell them not to desire getting a piece of the entertainment the rich people are having?
In a third world country where majority of the people earn less than 5 dollars a day, the concept of giving movie artists, their pampered executives and these movie outfits their due is like explaining to a religious bigot the difference between atheism and agnosticism. They simply do not care. Therein lies the problem. Because the concept of copyright infringement is in itself a first world problem.
I am not for piracy. I am for the effective implementation of our IPL but I am also for making entertainment affordable. After all, filmmaking is not only about earning profits. It is also about giving entertainment to people.
*Habana vs. Robles 310 SCRA 511 (1999)
Pia Augustha G. Agatep