20 April 2017, Manila, Philippines – In celebration of World Intellectual Property Day in Manila, the local industry and government agencies have joined together to announce new efforts to prevent piracy, illegal camcording and other violations of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). While the Philippines’ continues to experience a fast growing digital landscape and high mobile engagement among users, with digital trade and e-commerce on the rise, online piracy continues to threaten the entire ecosystem. Criminals and organized cartels have also sought to capitalize on digital-related crime.
People accessing content on pirate websites face a dual risk – Potential identity theft from malware and Trojans, and secondly exposure to highly-sexualized content:
Malware and Trojans pose grave threats to personal security
When people visit infringing websites they may be exposed to malware and Trojans. Pirate websites are the most common sources for malicious malware and Trojans. They risk attacks on valuable personal data. Individuals are not the only ones under threat – big data infrastructures such as banks, businesses and government agencies, should take note.
A 2017 State of Malware Report by Malwarebytes said that the Philippines is now a global “bot haven”, accounting over 50 percent of botnet detection in Asia, and a home to an extremely large source of Trojan malware. Private technology players have urged the national government to improve data security.
“Criminals, operating individually or in groups, bait visitors by the prospect of gaining access to creative content. When baited, they use spywares and bots to access and/or control their victims’ devices remotely and steal their data, which may be used for identity theft and other malicious scams. These criminals make millions of dollars this way,” said Wilson Tieng, President of Solar Entertainment Corporation. “Users might not think much of the pop-ups, toolbars, ads, fake prompts and files downloaded covertly in the background as soon they visit the site, but these expose them to great online security and personal risks. We highly encourage Filipinos to use legitimate subscription-based content streaming services that provide safer access to a wide selection of content.”
Young people at risk
Out of 103 million Filipinos, 40 percent is under the age of 30. Slightly more than half of the population has access to the Internet. The Philippines is now at 58% in terms of internet penetration and 126% of the population has access to mobile connectivity, according to the Digital in 2017: Southeast Asia report by We Are Social. With the Filipinos’ increasing access to mobile phones, computers, tablets and other devices with internet connections, young people are vulnerable to visit these pirate websites without knowing they are engaging in illegal online activity. These infringing sites expose visitors to illicit content such as pornography, violence, online gambling, and online services that promote piracy, which may be falsely labeled as children’s songs, shows or movies.
In January, the Philippine Government took the initiative to block internet users from accessing porn websites. In accordance with the Republic Act 9775 or Anti-Child Pornography Law, the adult website ban came days after a study found that Filipinos were the most frequent visitors of one of the largest porn websites, spending on average is 12 minutes and 45 seconds. Under the Anti-Child Pornography Law, it is illegal to host any child-pornography content on their websites.
“Today’s youth are lucky to have technology that gives them access to so much content literally at their fingertips. They now have many legitimate options to access content, especially music and movies that are safe and legal. However, they also face a myriad of challenges and risks in navigating the digital world,” said Atty. Marivic Benedicto, Chairman, Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI). “Parents, educators and mentors need to spend time educating and helping the youth understand these dangers. We must all share responsibility in creating a safe digital environment for everyone.”
What can be done?
Infringing Website List
Some pirate websites attract high levels of advertising revenue given that they get a large number of users. Legitimate brands may not know that their ads are appearing on these piracy websites, and that the criminal operations are benefiting financially from the arrangement.
In an effort to disrupt the advertising revenues on illegal websites on a global scale, marketing and advertising professionals in several markets around the world are collaborating on the Infringing Website List (IWL) initiative. The IWL is a list of infringing websites where advertisers can chose not to place their ads.
This initiative was first started in the United Kingdom. In the Philippines, the Motion Picture Association is working with the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) to create awareness for brands and the advertising industry about online infringement to help disrupt the advertising revenues channeled to the illegal pirate sites.
“Ad misplacement on these infringing sites may damage the reputation of brands. We do not want our brands to be associated with pirate sites that are engaged in criminal activities,” said Meryl Adiel Timbol-Hernandez, President, PANA. “Intellectual property crime damages industries that invest in producing legitimate goods and content, and costs the economy. Through the IWL, we, as part of the digital ad industry, are helping ensure that our advertisers and agencies that it is not helping fund piracy.”
Joining forces to protect IPR
The Government and the industry are working hand in hand on the fight against the violators of Intellectual Property in the country. To raise awareness on the importance of IPR and the impact of IPR crimes, President Rodrigo Duterte has recently signed Proclamation 190 declaring April of every year as National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Month. Throughout April, various programs and activities will be carried out by the Intellectual Property Office and other industry players to educate various sectors of the public.
“IPR education and awareness are vital in ensuring that Filipinos are conscious of the importance of IPR and the various measures and laws in place to protect the system,” Director General Josephine R. Santiago of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines said. A high level of IPR appreciation brings about respect and recognition for the works of gifted and creative individuals who make our life easier and better through the fruits of their creative genius. Most importantly, she added, people should be aware of the adverse economic implications of IPR violations to the country and the potential dangers to human life and health. Director General Santiago also emphasized that an effective intellectual property system is vital to the development of domestic and creative activities, in facilitating transfer of technologies, encouraging the inflow of foreign investments and in ensuring market access to Filipino products and services. “We, at IPOPHL would like to invite all Filipinos to join us in our advocacy of defending the rights of creators, innovators and inventors and in fighting infringement, piracy and other forms of IPR violations,” she urged.
The anti-piracy campaign of the Philippine film industry, supported by collaborative efforts, is constantly being reviewed and improved. The National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP) and the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFC) are steadfast in their commitment to carry out various measures to deter criminal syndicates from illegal camcording, and continued education efforts on piracy and other illegal activities.
Under the Anti-Camcording Law, any person who is caught using or attempting to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of any part of a performance in an exhibition facility of any cinematographic film or other audiovisual work will be charged with a fine of PhP 50,000 to PhP 750,000 (US$1,000-US$17,000) and will face imprisonment of a minimum of six months and one day to six years and one day.