IPOPHL joins PAPT, boosts fight against software piracy
Friday, September 9, 2011
Manila, Philippines (9 September 2011) – On its 6th anniversary since inception, the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT) composed of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Optical Media Board (OMB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to become an even stronger task force in curbing software piracy in the country with the addition of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) as its newest member.
The addition of the IPOPHL to the PAPT is considered significant as it is the agency tasked to promote respect for intellectual property rights in the country and is now building its own enforcement capabilities to be able to more effectively carry out its mandate.
In fact, the reinforced PAPT is set to undertake another crackdown campaign in key areas of Manila and Mindanao. It has placed print advertisements in newspapers and sent out warning letters to companies from earlier this month advising companies to legalize their software or face the consequences of copyright infringement.
Established in 2005 with the NBI, OMB and PNP as its original members, the formation of the PAPT was designed to consolidate and better coordinate the efforts of the government’s various enforcement agencies to bring down the rate of piracy in the country, particularly software piracy. The high rate of software piracy had been holding back the growth of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry and preventing it from contributing significantly to the nation’s economy.
For the last six years, the PAPT has undertaken some 404 enforcement actions in various business centers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, resulting in the seizures of P400 million pesos worth of computers and software. These actions have heightened awareness among the business community of the risks and consequences of engaging in software piracy - such as disruption in the raided companies’ business operations, damage to their corporate reputation, risk of up to nine years imprisonment and a fine of up to one million pesos under the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (RA 8293).
Even if the rate of PC software piracy in the Philippines has only decreased marginally from 71% in 2005 to 69% in 2007, and remained at that level till now, the diligent efforts of the PAPT has been credited with keeping piracy in check despite the increase in the number and usage of computers in the country.
“Businesses using pirated and unlicensed software should realize that they are not only stealing the intellectual property (IP) of software developers, they are also depriving thousands of Filipinos the chance to getting good jobs in the ICT sector,” said Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, Director General of IPOPHL.
“Having laws that forbid and punish all forms of piracy is all well and good, but educating the public and the business community that software piracy is a crime is also important. Without effective and relentless enforcement, the fight against software piracy can only go so far. By joining the PAPT, IPOPHL hopes to contribute whatever available resources we have to beef up the enforcement component of IP rights protection,” Blancaflor declared.
The top IPOPHL official pointed out that even while IPOPHL is still waiting for it to be formally bestowed with enforcement powers, the agency can actually seize pirated optical discs if deputized by OMB or if accompanied by OMB operatives.
Speaking on behalf of the PAPT, OMB Chairman Ronnie Ricketts welcomed the entry of IPOPHL in the PAPT Team. “We are honored that no less than the top agency tasked with the protection of intellectual property rights in the country has joined our team. This will add more cachet and clout to our operations, and make erring companies realize that the PAPT has the all-out support of the government and really means business,” Ricketts pointed out.
“The NBI, the PNP and our own OMB have made great gains these past six years. With the IPO aboard, the PAPT has become an even more formidable team. We will intensify our efforts further, and we can expect to make further advances in the fight against software piracy in the months and years ahead,” Ricketts predicted.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the IP Coalition (IPC), two organizations that have staunchly supported the PAPT since its inception, have reiterated their commitment to continue backing the expanded PAPT team.
“The BSA has recognized the substantive accomplishments of the PAPT in the enforcement area, and has given the team all possible support to make it more effective in its job. We are happy that the IPO has joined the PAPT team. This is indeed a major development that can only further enhance the effectiveness of the PAPT. BSA remains steadfast in its support for the team,” BSA consultant for the Philippines, Atty. Bien Marquez stressed.
Marquez underscored the importance of bringing down software piracy in the country in view of the recent study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) for the Business Software Alliance (BSA) which showed that if the rate of software piracy in the Philippines were reduced by 10 percentage points in four years, it could add an additional P19.2 billion into the economy, generate P17.5 billion in additional taxes for the government and create over 1,000 high-tech, high wage jobs.
IPC Chairman John Lesaca likewise welcomed IPO to the PAPT team. “We have been partners of IPO in educating Filipinos about the importance of protecting IP rights, whether in the music, movie or software industries. We have worked with them in programs that promote respect for IP rights and recognize companies that uphold the IP rights of stakeholders in their businesses.
“But for all the awareness that we have raised, it is obvious that education is not enough, and that it should be accompanied by effective enforcement of the copyright laws. Hence, we are pleased that IPO is now also getting involved in the enforcement area. This development definitely brings an added positive dimension and factor that can make a big difference in the continuing fight against IP piracy in the Philippines,” Lesaca further stated.
For more information about the PAPT, visit www.papt.org.ph or call the PAPT Secretariat at (02) 692-9516.
About the PAPT
The Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team is a government-led coalition set up to reduce software piracy in the Philippines. The team is composed of the National Bureau of Investigation, Optical Media Board, Philippine National Police, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, and supported by the Business Software Alliance and the Intellectual Property Coalition. The PAPT is also a member of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), a group tasked by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to enforce the country’s IPR laws.
As part of its support to the PAPT, the BSA maintains a hotline (02) 895-6438 and 1-800-10-BSA-HTLN (1-800-10-272-4856, toll free) that receives information against businesses that are allegedly infringing on its members’ copyright. The BSA offers a reward of up to 1 million pesos for substantive reports on businesses suspected of using unlicensed software.