Categories
Industry

Creator economy – expanding, adding and improving online content

The rise of the gig economy in India through various startups created work opportunities for millions besides providing “ease of living” and “ease of access” to millions of customers. Another area where a surge is being seen is around the evolution of short video content platforms. This new form has given creators in big metros and tier 2 and 3 cities and towns an opportunity to showcase their talent, gain a following, start their journey on influencing, in the hope of leveraging brand sponsorships and potential ad revenue from the creative content they create.

Storytelling has existed over centuries and has been carried on over generations through various mediums around the world in every culture. Storytelling in India has had its own rich history and content which has been created and passed on from one generation to another through various forms that include scriptures, texts, writings, paintings, word of mouth, narrations, songs, stories, scripts, music, dance forms, theatre, plays, costumes, masks and even puppetry.

The modern devices of the previous century brought in devices such as audio and video recording to carry this forward through standalone devices. Simply put, storytelling has been one of the easiest ways to get the message through and creators and messengers have a big role to play in keeping it alive.

The current day medium of the internet and its various online avatars that include short video content have brought in a completely different perspective to storytelling and its content creators. For the past many decades, big media and entertainment were the predominant story tellers and content creators but this began to change with the advent of the internet. The internet and its various online platforms empowered ordinary “people like us” to create and publish our own content and tell a story. People began to like and subscribe to this new decentralized form and started consuming this content leading to the birth of the “creator economy”.

When we look at the investment trend in India, it caters to a creator economy that’s still focused on the discovery, while countries like the United States have given birth to hundreds of startups that help creators monetize faster. Many creators on established global platforms have been able to make a living out of it through brand endorsements, advertisements, subscriptions, or more due to a credible and trustworthy relationship with their fans.

India is fast emerging as a fertile ground for creators but needs to add more layers to this ‘creator economy’ through multiple startups that can cater to different audiences. Today the creator economy is beginning to boom with everyone trying their hand at creating content by cracking witty jokes, enacting stuff, cooking, playing games to tutorials on different subjects to even simply entertaining. With over 500 million smartphone users every holder may be soon itching to become a creator at least once.

But where is India’s growth story headed to, when it comes to creators?

To understand, let us take a look at what a creator can do to build his or her own marketplace, which enables them to get financial independence. Using various online and app-based platforms content creators can earn through advertising, sponsored content, product placement, tipping, paid subscriptions, digital content sales, merchandise, shout-outs, live and virtual events, VIP meetups, virtual gifting and fan clubs and more as the creator economy unfolds.

In an episode of Lauren Schipper’s podcast Creator Upload, Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners said, ‘Everybody on earth might become a creator’ which if looked into, might actually be the potential size of the opportunity of creator economy.’ The creator economy is rising in popularity rapidly. The SignalFire report mentions more than 50 million people consider themselves creators. The report further splits creators into amateurs at 46.7 million and professionals at 2 million with sponsored influencers contributing $8 billion. The US is already booming on creator economy tools focusing on monetization.

India’s creator economy has a huge potential to dominate globally in next two years’ time if we play it right. The scale of our young population is big added with an increased urge to be self-employed. Platforms need to open up more opportunities for creators to monetize.

The three top creator economy global trends project that creators are moving their top fans off social networks and on to their own websites, apps, and monetization tools, creators becoming founders, building out teams and assembling tools to help them start businesses while focuses on their art and finally creators gaining power in the media ecosystem as fans seek to connect with individual personalities rather than faceless publishers.

Thus, the creator economy is bound to be the next big livelihood creator in coming times where everyone is empowered to become one.

Rameesh Kailasam is CEO and president at IndiaTech.org. Tamseel Hussain is founder and CEO at People Like Us Create (Pluc). The views in this article are their own.

Categories
Interview Piracy

For Hollywood studios, anti-piracy begins with distribution agreements

Piracy Monitor visited with Chris Odgers, who worked in Business Technology roles for 20+ years at Warner Bros. and later with WarnerMedia, and who is presently an industry consultant.

We all know that ‘content owners care about piracy.’ But the concerns of content owners and rights-holders that want to protect their content against theft are quite different from the concerns of distributors and online video providers who want to minimize churn and theft of service.

And among content providers, the concerns of Hollywood studios are different from those of broadcasters, sports leagues and event promoters, which in turn are different from one another. Even if they may apply similar technologies to the problem, their priorities and their technology mix will differ.

Earlier is more valuable

As original content is their lifeblood, and because for them the content lifecycle begins at the lens and not in a headend or on a network, the studios focus their content protection and anti-piracy efforts on production, pre-release, and the early days of release. “The later in the release window a movie is, the less it is worth,” said Mr. Odgers.

Setting ground rules

Distribution agreements serve to ensure that licensed content can be protected as intended. At Warner Bros., Mr. Odgers ran a group responsible for reviewing licensee’s distribution technology and the language in licenses that specified how to protect the content from the licensee’s backend to the consumer. His team also collaborated with Warner’s anti-piracy legal group. While ‘protecting the studios’ may conjure images of movie theatres and camcording, his group was responsible for non-theatrical distribution, such as airline and hotels, as well as films and episodic TV programming distributed via physical media, the Internet, and pay and free television channels. He also collaborated with studio personnel that helped secure content production.

Establishing lines of demarcation

License agreements establish baseline distribution and usage parameters that are quantifiable, measurable and repeatable. Because legal and business teams don’t have sufficient technical background, they don’t always know the technological frameworks necessary to implement a business model in a working service. “Our job was to vet agreements to make sure that the technical language was aligned with the business and legal terms the licensee needed to comply with,” said Odgers.

Establishing constraints

Distribution constraints are sometimes specific to the form of distribution. In a rental agreement, for example, the license would limit the number of simultaneous playable copies. For a subscription service, there would be a limit on the number of simultaneous streams in order to minimize the chance that a subscriber was sharing their password with their hundred closest friends.

If a licensee operates a service in multiple territories, the agreement might specify availability of certain programming across territories. For example, while ‘Territory A’ content can be accessed in Territory A, there may be limitations on accessing some of that content in Territory B.

Timing, genre and advertising present additional constraints. Consider a TV program that’s released on demand at 9pm on the US East coast, which would be 6pm on the West coast. The license may allow the content to be accessed on-demand immediately after being first broadcast. However, 9PM on the US East Coast would be 6PM on the US West Coast, so access in more westerly time zones would need to be prevented until after the show aired in those time zones.

Sports programming is often subject to blackout rules which require fine-grained geo-filtering. For ad-supported content, programs must be presented with the right advertising for a given territory, at the right time, and this may differ depending on the user’s device.

Identifying instances of piracy

“Without being specific to the practices of any particular media company, and no matter whether it’s high-priced pay-per-view programming or direct-to-digital movie releases; session-based watermarks are important,” said Mr. Odgers. If very early window movies are made available to consumers, the distributor may be required to apply a specific mark that ties the content to a specific rental – and if a particular copy is found ‘in the wild’, it provides supporting evidence if a studio decides to pursue legal action.

In pay TV, a watermark from the set top box being used by a pirate can be determined very quickly and the operator can respond by turning off the smartcard in the box, in addition to perhaps pursuing an action later. Being able to respond quickly is vital during a program which only has value as it is happening, such as a sports broadcast.

Coloring within the lines

With clear boundaries of acceptable use drawn and some knowledge of where infringement is most likely to occur, it’s easier for a rights-holder or a distributor to determine when the line has been crossed.

This article was originally published in Content Café.

Categories
Copyright

Copyright Enforcement In A Digital Era


Mr. Thomas Dillon is Legal Counsellor in the Building Respect for Intellectual Property Division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva.

In an engaging conversation with Mr. Ameet Datta, Partner, Saikrishna & Associates, Mr. Dillon highlighted WIPO’s role and various initiatives to support enforcement of copyright and protection and promotion of creative industries.

Mr. Dillon stated that WIPO, in conformance with its mission of enhancing protection of intellectual property through international co-operation, primarily functions as a forum that enables the international community to develop rules for the protection of intellectual property. He spoke about the role of the Building Respect for Intellectual Property Division (BRIP), which is broadly concerned with two activities: enforcement and awareness. The BRIP division also provides legislative advice on enforcement related aspects such as injunctions and damages to countries seeking to reform their copyright law.

On WIPO’s engagement with stakeholders on the promotion and enforcement of copyright, Mr. Dillon remarked that WIPO mainly deals with the copyright and intellectual property offices of Member States and other intergovernmental organizations.

Acknowledging the fact that there was a reasonable consensus on the usefulness of site blocking, he alluded to an opinion expressed by an economist who, in an address to the WIPO’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement, observed that as long as site blocking was done on a broad spectrum of a large number of leading pirate sites, not only would piracy be reduced, but legal sales would also be fostered.

On the subject of how site blocking remedies have worked around the world, Mr. Dillon stated that the development of site blocking remedies was closely linked to the legal traditions of the countries that had adopted them. Most of the major economies in Europe already have site blocking regimes. This is mainly due to the existence of a Directive of 2001 which effectively mandates site blocking as a remedy. The method of site blocking, however, is to be determined by each country. Individual countries remain free to follow their own approach.

 

 

Assessing the possibility of administrative frameworks for site blocking as opposed to purely judicial interventions, Mr. Dillon commented that this was a matter to be decided by Member States. The classic common law approach, as seen in countries like India and Australia, shows that site blocking completely comes under the ambit of the courts. On the other hand, a country like Italy has opted for an administrative approach with the country’s telecommunications regulator operating the site blocking regime, with the option of judicial review if it is applied for. There are also jurisdictions which have a mixed approach such in Russia, where the telecom regulator plays an active role in site blocking, but its decisions are validated by the Moscow city court. This approach has been emulated by Lithuania as well. It is not for WIPO to advocate any particular approach.

 

 

On the topic of the WIPO Alert Project, Mr. Dillon described WIPO Alert as a “database of databases”. It is  a secured platform operated by WIPO where Member States voluntarily submit lists of websites identified by them to be infringing. This list of infringing websites that forms the WIPO Alert database is then shared with the advertising industry. Potential advertisers can refer to the database and refrain from placing advertisements on pirate websites. The project drew inspiration from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit of the City of London Police, which maintains a secured list of pirate websites to be shared with the advertising industry.

The WIPO Alert database is thus basically a technical service offered to the advertising industry, which is supported by a group of Member States. While Italy and the Republic of Korea were founding members of the WIPO Alert project, it has also been joined by Brazil, Spain, Japan, Peru, Russia, Ecuador, Ukraine, Mexico and Lithuania. The number of users is also around the same mark. At present, there are around 6400 domains on the WIPO Alert system. WIPO is presently focussed on getting new users to the platform. Mr. Dillon highlighted that WIPO Alert is a free service, which could be useful for advertisers and technical intermediaries.

Mr. Dillon stated that WIPO does not dictate to member states about due diligence requirements regarding the process of getting websites onto the list of infringing websites, but in the interests of transparency, member states are asked to explain their approach to listing websites in a public document. This document detailing the approach, is then made available on the WIPO website, where it is publicly accessible. The WIPO Alert database itself is secured and not accessible by the public. It was further highlighted that WIPO does not propose any kind of mandatory arrangement. The WIPO Alert project is entirely voluntary.

As far as Indian participation in the WIPO Alert  project was concerned,  discussions have been held with the Indian Government and participation by India either at the national or State level would be very welcome.

On the question of new dimensions of copyright enforcement emerging due to the impact of the lockdown due to the pandemic, Mr. Dillon was of the opinion that there is likely to be more sophistication in the injunctions regime. For example, the Korean Copyright Agency already employs Artificial Intelligence (AI) while searching for infringing websites. There have also been technical innovations such as more sophisticated watermarking. He noted however, that while various tools for copyright enforcement have been available for the last 15 years, the real concern remains the formulation of an institutional framework for their use. There will also undoubtedly be new forms of piracy and dealing with those would be an area of concern. A big unresolved problem remains the sale of generic streaming devices and it is difficult to formulate an ex-post legal remedy to reduce the use of those devices for piracy. Therefore, it is uncertain what the future holds, and the outline of a solution is yet to be reached.

In the context of the intersection between copyright infringement and cybercrime, Mr. Dillon drew attention to the draft anti cybercrime treaty that is presently under discussion in the United Nations (UN). This is relevant because as the existing Budapest Convention on Cybercrime (which is a European treaty) already recognizes, copyright crime committed with a computer is cybercrime. While countries have tools to deal with copyright piracy at the national level, it is when copyright piracy crosses borders that enforcement becomes more difficult. WIPO therefore intends to closely monitor the developments regarding the treaty being drafted at the UN.

As an assessment on WIPO’s role, Mr. Dillon noted that the work done at WIPO is governed by the WIPO Development Agenda, agreed upon by its members in 2007, which requires WIPO to focus on the development aspect. WIPO’s role is to facilitate discussions among member states and provide them with information to enable them to chart their own course. WIPO endeavours to help member states balance enforcement of copyright with respect for rights such as the right of defense. WIPO’s role is that of a facilitator. As WIPO is a diplomatic organization, its 193 members have the ultimate decision as to its activities.

 

Categories
Industry Media

Breaking: RMPL (recorded music performance limited) receives registration as a copyright society for sound recordings

The DPIIT under the aegis of Ministry of Commerce & Industry has granted certificate of registration to Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL) under Section 33(3) of the Copyright Act, 1957 and permitted it to commence and carry on the copyright business in sound recording works. Read certificate here.

As covered in our post here,  PPL had moved the Delhi High Court against Government order cancelling its registration application. The Delhi High Court had clarified that if PPL finally succeeds in the present matter, its application for re-registration would stand revived. Further, the Hon’ble Court also directed the Government to keep the aforesaid in mind and till the pendency of this petition not to take any action inconsistent to the above-mentioned position.

As covered in our post here, the Copyright Office had issued a public notice on May 22, 2018 inviting attention of general public and stakeholders to the fact that Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL) has vide their application dated March 26, 2018 applied through the Registrar of Copyrights, before the Central Government for its registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in respect of Sound Recording Works.

In view of RMPL procuring registration as a copyright society and given the fact that most of the major music labels are members of PPL, it would now have to be seen if Government grants PPL registration as a society for the same class of works i.e. sound recording.  Section 33(3) requires that the Central Government shall not ordinarily register more than one copyright society to do business in respect of the same class of works.

The Government has been calling for stakeholder meetings to discuss the various aspects pertaining to registration of multiple copyright societies as opposed to single copyright society in a single class of work.  Read our posts on this topic herehere,  here and here.

This article was originally published in IPRMENTLAW.

Categories
Industry

Ministry Of Information And Broadcasting Amends Cable Tv Network Rules,1994 To Address Citizens’ Grievances.

On 17th June, 2021, the Central Government has issued a notification (Read notification here) amending the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 to provide a statutory mechanism for the redressal of complaints relating to content broadcasted by the television channels. These rules have been termed as “The Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021” (“CTNR Rules, 2021). The CTNR Rules, 2021 are at par with the self-regulation mechanism introduced for publishers of online curated content and news and current affairs content under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (Read our posts here and here on the IT Rules, 2021)

The CTNR Rules, 2021 introduce the following rules in relation to self-regulation mechanism for broadcasters:

      • Rule 15. Complaint redressal structure
      • Rule 16. Filing and processing of grievance or complaint
      • Rule 17. Self-Regulation by broadcasters
      • Rule 18. Self-regulation by the self-regulating body of broadcasters.
      • Rule 19. Oversight Mechanism
      • Rule 20. Inter-Departmental Committee.
      • Rule 21. Disclosure of Information

Additionally, Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 which deals with the Programme Code, the following Sub-Rule (6) has been introduced:

where the Central Government is satisfied that the programme of any channel is not in conformity with the Programme Code, it may, after giving an opportunity of hearing to the cable operator, and by an order in writing, prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of any such channel or programme in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of the Act.

Further, Rule 7 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 which deals with the Advertisement Code, the following Sub-Rule (12) has been introduced.

“where the Central Government is satisfied that the advertisement of any channel is not in conformity with the Advertising Code, it may, after giving an opportunity of hearing to the cable operator, and by an order in writing, prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of any such channel or programme in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of the Act”

Rule 15: Complaint Redressal Structure

Complaint Redressal Structure has been introduced to ensure observance and adherence to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code by the broadcaster and to address the grievance or complaint, if any, relating thereto, there shall be a three-level structure as under:

      • Level I – A self-regulation by broadcasters;
      • Level II – Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the broadcasters; and
      • Level III – Oversight mechanism by the Central Government.

Similarly, Indian Broadcast Foundation (“IBF”) and the DCCC (Digital Content Complaints Committee) with BCCC (Broadcasting Content Complaints Council) already have their self-regulating guidelines in place. (Read our post  here ). The above amendments put the rules guiding broadcasters at par with the IT Rules governing digital and OTT streaming platforms which also have to have a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism.

Filing And Processing Of Grievance Or Complaint

  • For Advertisements:

Any person aggrieved by the content of a programme of a channel as being not in conformity with the Programme Code or the Advertising Code may file his complaint in writing to the Broadcaster.

Provided that where such complaint relates to Advertising Code laid down by the Advertising Standards Council of India, such complaint may be addressed to the said ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council body and that Council shall deal with such complaint in accordance with the procedure laid down by it.

  • For Programmes:

Any person aggrieved by the content of a programme of a channel as being not in conformity with the Programme Code or the Advertising Code may file his complaint in writing to the broadcaster.

Every complaint shall be dealt with in the following manner, namely: –

  • Acknowledgement of complaint: The broadcaster shall, within 24 hours of complaint being filed, generate and issue an acknowledgement to the complainant for his information and record.
  • Response to complaint: The broadcaster shall dispose of the complaint and inform the complainant of its decision within 15 days of receipt of such complaint;
  • Appeal to Self-Regulating Body: if the decision of the broadcaster is not communicated to the complainant within the stipulated period of 15 days, or if the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the broadcaster, he may prefer an appeal to the self-regulating body of which such broadcaster is a member, within 15 days therefrom;
  • Disposition By Self-Regulating Body: The self-regulating body shall dispose of the appeal within 60 days of receipt of appeal and convey its decision in the form of a guidance or advisory to the broadcaster, and inform the complainant of such decision within a period of 15 days;
  • Final appeal to Central Government oversight mechanism: When, the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body, he may, within 15 days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the Central Government for its consideration under the Oversight Mechanism referred to in rule 19.

Self-Regulation By Broadcasters – A broadcaster shall –

  • Establish a grievance or complaint redressal mechanism
  • Appoint an officer to deal with the complaints received by it;
  • Display the contact details related to its grievance redressal mechanism
  • Display the name and contact details of its Grievance Officer at an appropriate place on its website or interface, as the case may be;
  • Ensure that such Officer takes a decision on every grievance or complaint received by it within 15 days
  • Ensure to communicate the decision to the complainant within the stipulated time;
  • Be a member of a self-regulating body and abide by its terms and conditions.

The broadcaster shall comply with every advisory, guidance, order or direction issued under this rule by the self-regulating body or by the Central Government, as the case may be

Self-Regulation By The Self-Regulating Body Of Broadcasters

  • Formation of self-regulation mechanism: There may be one or more self-regulatory body of broadcasters, being an independent body constituted by the broadcasters or its association.
  • Establish a grievance redressal mechanism: Every such self-regulating body shall be constituted by a minimum of 40 broadcasters.
  • Appoint a Grievance Officer Every self-regulating body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or such other relevant fields, and shall have other members, preferably not exceeding six, being independent experts in the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights and such other relevant fields.
  • Register: The self-regulating body shall, after its constitution register itself with the Central Government within a period of 30 days from the date of publication of these rules, or within 30 days from the date of its constitution, whichever is earlier.

Functions Of Self-Regulating Body:

The self-regulating body shall perform the following functions: —

  • Oversee and ensure the alignment adherence by the broadcaster to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code;
  • Provide guidance to the broadcaster on various aspects of the Programme Code and the Advertising Code;
  • Address grievances which have not been resolved by broadcaster within 15 days;
  • Hear appeals filed by the complainant against the decision of the broadcaster;
  • Issue such guidance or advisories to a broadcaster for ensuring compliance to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code.

Manner Of Disposing Complaint:

A self-regulating body while disposing complaint or an appeal may issue the following guidance or advisories to the broadcaster, namely: –

  • advisory, warning, censure, admonish or reprimand; or
  • an apology to be telecast by the broadcaster; or
  • include a warning card or a disclaimer; or
  • in case of any content where it is satisfied that there is a need for taking action to delete or modify content, refer it to the Central Government for the consideration of the oversight mechanism referred to in rule 19 for appropriate action.

Where the self-regulating body is of the opinion that there is no violation of the Programme Code or the Advertising Code, it shall convey such decision to the complainant and the broadcaster.

Where the broadcaster fails to comply with the guidance or advisory of the self-regulating body within the time specified in such guidance or advisory, the self-regulating body shall refer the matter to the Oversight Mechanism referred to in rule 19 within 15 days of expiry of the stipulated period.

Oversight MechanismThe Central Government shall coordinate and facilitate the adherence to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code by the broadcaster, develop an Oversight Mechanism, and perform the following functions, namely: –

  • publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices for such bodies;
  • establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances or complaints;
  • refer to the Inter-Departmental Committee grievances or complaints arising out of the decision of the self-regulating body under rule 17, or if no decision has been taken by the self-regulating body within the stipulated time, or on receipt of such other complaints or references relating to violation of Programme Code or Code Advertising as it may consider necessary
  • issue appropriate guidance and advisories to broadcasters;
  • issue appropriate orders and directions to broadcasters for maintenance and adherence to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code;
  • take action for non-compliance of its orders or directions and that of the self-regulating body.

Disclosure of Information: A self-regulating body and a broadcaster shall make true and full disclosure of :-

  • All grievances or complaints received by it
  • the manner in which the grievances are disposed of
  • the action taken on the grievance
  • the reply sent to the complainant
  • the order or directions received by it under the rules
  • the action taken on such orders or directions
  • Such information shall be displayed in public domain, and updated quarterly
  • Preserve records of content telecasted by it for minimum of 90 days and make it available to the self-regulating body or the Central Government, or any other Government agency, as may be requestioned.

The above amendment leads to a strong institutional system for redressing grievances while placing accountability and responsibility on the broadcasters and their self-regulating bodies.

This article was originally published in IPRMENTLAW

Categories
Intellectual Property

PPL Moves Delhi High Court Against Government Order That Rejected Its Re- Registration Application

Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) (petitioner) is a collective rights organization licensing its members’ sound recordings for communication to public in the areas of public performance and radio broadcast. PPL owns and/or controls the Public Performance rights of some of the largest record labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Speed Records, T-Series, Universal Music, Times Music. In an order dated 25.05.2021, passed by the Government, PPL’s application for re-registration as a copyright society under Rule 47 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 was rejected. Rule 47 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 deals with Application and conditions for re-registration or renewal of existing copyright societies.

Facts of the Case:

  • Pursuant to an amendment in the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Rules thereunder, in the year 2012 and 2013, registered copyright societies such as the petitioner, were required to apply for re-registration within a stipulated time frame.
  • The petitioner applied for such re-registration on 09.05.2013. However, by a communication dated 20.05.2014, the petitioner informed the respondent that it was not desirous of carrying on business as a registered copyright society, and that it ceased to be a “copyright society” under Chapter VII of the Act. It therefore stated that its application dated 09.05.2013 stood withdrawn by it.
  • The respondent did not accept the aforesaid position and, informed the petitioner that its application for re-registration was still under consideration of the Central Government, and no final decision had been taken so far. The respondent took the position that, pending a final decision on the petitioner’s application, the petitioner was not entitled to take a unilateral decision not to continue as a copyright society, as the interests of several rights owners were involved.
  • However, by a communication dated 25.05.2021, the respondent contended that the petitioner had withdrawn its application on 20.05.2014, and that it had made a subsequent application on 11.01.2018, which was belated. The respondent therefore communicated its decision that re- registration cannot be granted to the petitioner.

The Delhi High Court was of the view that since the petitioner’s communication dated 20.05.2014 was expressly rejected by the respondent, and the subsequent correspondence between the parties treated the petitioner’s application as a live application, therefore, an ad interim order was passed, and the petitioner’s application was directed to be considered on its own merits. The Hon’ble Court further clarified that if PPL finally succeeds in the present matter, its application for re-registration would stand revived. Further, the Hon’ble Court also directed the Government to keep the aforesaid in mind and till the pendency of this petition not to take any action inconsistent to the above-mentioned position.

PPL further sought an interim order directing the respondent not to process any other application for registration as a copyright society in respect of sound recordings, being the works in which the petitioner’s members are right holders. The court relied on Section 33(3) of the Act and Rule 49 of the Rules, which provide that an application for registration may be rejected inter alia on the ground of existence of another copyright society registered under the Act for administering the same right or set of rights in the specific categories of works and clarified that the respondent shall not take any action inconsistent with the present position during its pendency. However, the Court was of the view that an order restraining the respondent from processing any other application would not be appropriate at this stage, particularly as no other applicant is even a party before this Court.

The matter is now listed on 25.08.2021. Read order here.

In the Annual Report of PPL for 2019-20, it is recorded that:

“Pursuant to the 2012 Amendment to the Copyright Act with effect from June 21, 2012, more specifically in Chapter VII and the newly inserted second proviso to Section 33 (3A) read with the new Copyright Rules 2013, seeking Copyright Societies to re-register, the Company, had within the one year period available to apply for re-registration, applied for the same on May 09, 2013. Since the Company did not get any response from the Central Government and in view of the legal implication arising therefrom, the Company, vide its letter to the Central Government dated May 20, 2014 has, inter alia, withdrawn its application for re-registration and has declared to have ceased to be a ‘copyright society’ under Chapter VII and Section 33 of the Copyright Act, as amended.

The Central Government (Ministry of Human Resource Development) in its letter dated November 20, 2014 stated that the Company’s application for registration, dated May 09, 2013, is still under consideration and hence the Company cannot take a decision not to continue as Copyright Society.

In terms of Section 18 (2) of the Copyright Act, where the assignee of a copyright becomes entitled to any right comprised in the copyright, the assignee with respect to the rights so assigned, shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as the owner of copyright and the provisions of this Copyright Act shall have effect accordingly. On the strength of the provisions of Section 18 (2), the Company, backed by a written legal opinion, believes that the ownership by assignment will be exempt from the provisions of Section 33 (1) and had completed procedures to obtain such assignment of the copyrights by the members to the Company and continues to engage in the business of issuing/granting licences.

 As per the Board Meeting held on November 21, 2017, it was resolved that subject to the approval of the members of the Company, the Company should pursue its application for re-registration as a copyright society with the Central Government under Section 33 of the Copyright Society Act, for sound recording and, to this end, also review its existing Articles of Association under guidance from experts or advisers. Subsequently the Company has changed its Articles of Association with the approval of its members”.

Readers may recollect that the Government has been calling for stakeholder meetings to discuss the various aspects pertaining to registration of multiple copyright societies as opposed to single copyright society in a single class of work. The rejection of PPL as a copyright society therefore comes as a surprise.

Read our posts on this topic herehere,  here and here.

As covered in our post here, the Copyright Office had issued a public notice on May 22, 2018 inviting attention of general public and stakeholders to the fact that Recorded Music Performance Limited (RMPL) has vide their application dated March 26, 2018 applied through the Registrar of Copyrights, before the Central Government for its registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in respect of Sound Recording Works.

There have been several applications filed for registration of different copyright societies, status of which is yet not known. For instance, Cinefil Producers Performance Limited had also filed its application in 2018 (see our post here). In November, 2020, the Government had called for comments on registration of Screenwriters Rights Association of India (see our post here) to an application filed by SRAI in 2017.

As covered in our post here, Rule 49 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 require that when an application   for registration   is submitted to the Central Government through the Registrar of Copyrights, Government may, within a period of sixty days from the date of its receipt by the Registrar of Copyrights either register the applicant as a copyright society or, if- (i)  the applicant   has no professional   competence   to carry on    its business   or has no sufficient funds to manage its affairs; or (ii)  there exists another copyright   society registered   under the Act for administering the same right or set of rights in the specific   categories   of works   and it is well functioning; or (iii)  the Central Government   has reason to believe that the members   of the applicant are not bona fide copyright authors or other owners or they have not voluntarily signed the instrument setting up the applicant and the application   for registration; or (iv) the application   is found to be incomplete in any respect, reject the application

Provided that no such application shall be rejected without giving an opportunity of being heard to the applicant…..”

Whether the 60 day period mentioned in Rule 49 has any significance is yet to be tested. Regardless, there ought to be more transparency in providing updates on the status of the registrations of different societies and the reason behind their rejection.

This article was originally published in IPRMENTLAW.

Categories
OTT

The streaming boom for Oz producers – pros & cons

The explosion in streaming services worldwide is generating sizable new revenues for Australian content creators – while also posing challenges in maximizing the value of their Intellectual Property rights. 

 “We have a fabulous opportunity now to exploit a market which is hungry for content to fill streamers’ catalogues,” says Rebecca Hardman, head of legal and business affairs in Australia for See-Saw Films – the company behind a vast body of film and TV works including LionThe King’s SpeechAmmonite and Top of the Lake“The challenge we face is in preserving our creative and commercial independence.” 

 Among the global players, Netflix is the biggest acquirer and commissioner of Australian content. The typical worldwide Netflix contract typically gives producers a healthy fee as well as fully financing the projectbut producers are looking for innovative ways to build a profit-sharing element into deals 

 

Kate Hynes

 

 The producer presumption sitting behind the so-called Netflix models is that there is no back-end (ie, ongoing revenue) because profit sharing is not possible in a streaming world,” says Kate Hynes, head of legal and business affairs at Harrow and Five Bedrooms production house Hoodlum Entertainment.

However, when you look at content subscription models in other industries, there are multiple examples of how profit sharing can be achieved. Plus, the model is evolving constantly. As producers, it is important that we continue to challenge our presumptions and look for new ways to secure long-term financial success.

Felicity Harrison, director of business and legal affairs at NBCUniversal-owned Matchbox Pictures (StatelessSafe Harbour as well as co-commissions with Netflix on Glitch and Secret City) says: One of the challenges producers face when entering a global or rest-of-the-world SVOD deal is the limited potential upside from secondary sales. The terms of SVOD deals are long and holdbacks are extensive. The money being offered is generally enticing and can often close the gap to close whether a program can be financed or not. However, producers are often required to make a call for short- term security vs long-term potential upside.” 

Emma Fitzsimons, managing director of Princess Pictures, producer of Network 10’s How to Stay Married and the Hulu-commissioned animated family comedy Koala Man, says: “The market is still evolving. There were deals in the past that effectively removed any significant future revenue from the ROW (Rest of World).  I think we’ve got smarter now though. 

  “If a producer is looking into an all rights deal with a global platform, there are particular deal terms that might be negotiated in addition to a ‘costs plus’ finance model in lieu of traditional percentage of sales revenue. So you might try to negotiate for second season bonus, profit share on derivatives such as merchandising and linear sales, and keeping a percentage of the Producer Offset.”  

 Almost all sales contracts require broadcasters and distributors to take steps to prevent unauthorised access to Australian content. Some contracts specify means of addressing copyright disputes or infringements, which can happen when films or TV shows are licensed to third parties.  

Concerns about online piracy which could limit international sales are part of the IP conundrum, but producers feel the levels have been reduced by the combination of the Federal Court issuing hundreds of orders to block illegal streaming and downloading sites and the wider availability of content on dozens of outlets. 

“Site blocking will always be important for commercial reasons as well as for piracy,” says Hynes.

 

Hardman agrees, stating: “I think site blocking is one measure of preventing unauthorised access to content that has been effective to some degree but it’s part of a broader suite of changes in market behaviour – including the dismantling of holdbacks between territories – which have produced a cumulative impact. 

Australians’ appetite for streaming services is growing. Telsyte’s Australian Digital Consumer Study 2021 showed SVOD subscriptions grew more than 40-fold between 2014 and 2020, now totalling more than 16 million. Three in five Australian households were using at least one SVOD service at the end of 2020. The research firm, which monitors 40 platforms, predicts the number of streaming subs will exceed 20 million by 2024.  

There will be even wider choices for viewers when ViacomCBS launches Paramount+ (the rebranded and revamped 10 All Access) in Australia on August 11, offering more than 20,000 episodes and movies, charging $8.99 a month – cheaper than Netflix, Stan, Disney+ and Binge. 

Last week Amazon Prime Video announced it has commissioned seven Australian original productions and has invested $150 million in 14 local Amazon original series since 2019, creating more than 2,500 jobs across Australia. 

That sum includes the newly announced commissions including The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, a 7-part drama adapted by Sarah Lambert from the debut novel by Australian author Holly Ringland, with Glendyn Ivin directing and Sigourney Weaver playing Alice’s grandmother. 

The slate includes Eva Orner’s feature documentary Burning, which centres on the deadly Australian bushfires of 2019-2020comedies Class of ’07, The Moth Effect and Deadloch; and documentaries Head Above Water and Warriors on the Field.  

The federal government’s $540 million Location Incentive program thus far has disbursed $226 million to attract 23 international productions to Australia, generating more than $1.7 billion in private investment, providing more than 13,000 employment opportunities for local cast and crew and creating work for more than 13,800 businesses. 

Harrison says: “Deal-making is more exciting with the opportunities presented by more potential partners and being able to reach an immediate global audience from the first release. However additional partners in an international market brings with it layers of complexity, from creator deals through to commissioning deals. Further, the competition that each producer faces while operating in an international context brings new challenges too. 

This article was originally published in Content Cafe.

Categories
Copyright

ISP Teksavvy’s Appeal Against Pirate Site-Blocking Order is Dismissed in the Canadian Federal Court.

In a unanimous decision, on May 26 Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) dismissed the appeal by internet service provider (ISP), Teksavvy, against Canada’s first site blocking order for copyright infringement issued in November 2019. At the time, I commented that the site blocking order marked a significant step forward for the protection of copyrighted content in Canada, even though it was attacked by critics who claimed that it would lead to “internet censorship”, violated net neutrality and was a usurpation by the courts of the role of Parliament. Those criticisms were unfounded then and they are unfounded now, as the Appeal Court has ruled. The decision confirms that blocking orders are available in Canada to combat pirate content providers who camp in cyberspace while targeting Canadian consumers, and it confirms that Canada has joined the more than 40 countries that use site-blocking to fight online piracy and protect legitimate content distributors.

The case was initiated by Bell Media, Rogers Media and Groupe TVA in 2019 against GoldTV, an offshore pirate website illegally distributing content licensed for the Canadian market by the three companies. GoldTV failed to respect repeated injunctions and failed to appear in court to defend itself, which is not surprising given the offshore pirate business model it follows. (It sells subscriptions to its unlicensed content through providing apps that modify a digital box purchased by consumers, all at a fraction of the cost of legitimate subscription services). Bell, Rogers and TVA secured a court order requiring ISPs in Canada, including internet services owned by themselves, to block GoldTV. No ISPs, except Teksavvy, a small internet reseller, objected to the order.

Why did Teksavvy resist the order by launching an appeal? According to an interview with its VP of regulatory affairs posted on its website, Teksavvy’s position is that it is “not defending piracy, but rather the broader principle of an open internet against a creeping regime working in favour of very narrow commercial interests.” And what would those “narrow commercial interests” be? Well, apparently they are represented by larger ISPs and integrated media and telecom companies like Rogers, Bell and TVA that not only pay to license and distribute content, but also build the backbone internet infrastructure on which internet access resellers like Teksavvy depend. As you can surmise, there is no love lost between Teksavvy and the majors.

Teksavvy is a “reseller”, a company that offers internet service to consumers but does not own the last mile. It must obtain, for a fee, access to the home from the major telcos who have built and who own the infrastructure. The telcos are required by the regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to offer access to the resellers at wholesale rates set by the Commission. This is done to encourage competition. The real issue is the rate structure. If too high, the resellers won’t be able to compete at the retail level; if too low, they will undercut the telcos who will say they can’t earn a sufficient return on investment to continue to build out and upgrade their infrastructure. Teksavvy is not the only reseller in this position, just one of the more vocal ones, and has consistently been a thorn in the side of the major telcos. Coincidentally–and unrelated to the FCA’s decision–just days after the Appeal Court’s ruling, the CRTC announced a revised rate structure that largely favours the telcos, increasing the wholesale rate for access. In response, Teksavvy called for the resignation of the Chair of the Commission and announced that it would withdraw its application to provide mobile services.

Was animus toward the telcos one of the reasons for Teksavvy leading the charge against a site blocking process that was widely accepted by the industry? It is hard to say with precision what their motives are but in an earlier blog (Canada’s First Site Blocking Order: What is Driving the Objectors?)  I examined both Teksavvy’s motivations and those of intervenors appearing in support of its appeal (the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), also associated with the University of Ottawa’s law faculty). I noted that;

“Although Teksavvy claims it is fighting for internet freedom and not to defend piracy (David vs. Goliath and all that), it is pretty clear that this is all about competing with the large ISPs…If Teksavvy is permitted to continue providing access to pirated content to its subscribers while its major competitors are either constrained from doing so, or willingly agree not to, this gives “David” a competitive advantage when it comes to finding and keeping customers, especially those whose proclivities tend to consumption of content they haven’t paid for”.

As for the intervenors, they fell into two groups, (1) those supporting the site blocking order (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films–FIAPF; the Canadian Music Publishers Association, International Confederation of Music Publishers, Music Canada and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI); the International Publishers Association, International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, American Association of Publishers, The Publishers Association Limited, Canadian Publishers’ Council, Association of Canadian Publishers, The Football Association Premier League Limited and Dazn Limited, a sports streaming service), and (2) those opposed (CIPPIC, CIRA and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association–BCCLA). The court grouped them into three categories, the supporters of the order, CIPPIC and CIRA and finally, the BCCLA.  This somewhat unusual procedure was taken to expedite the filing of evidence and to hasten the court process.

Those opposing the order—Teksavvy, CIPPIC, CIRA and BCCLA– put forward a number of arguments; viz. site blocking is not mentioned in the Copyright Act and therefore the court has no jurisdiction; the CRTC has jurisdiction (this, despite the fact that the CRTC concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to establish site blocking as a result of the FairPlay Canada application to create an administrative agency to manage a site blocking regime); site blocking is inconsistent with net neutrality and, finally; that site blocking interferes with freedom of expression as enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Appeal Court examined and ultimately dismissed all these arguments. For a detailed examination of the case, see prominent copyright lawyer Barry Sookman’s blog posting “Blocking orders available in Canada rules Court of Appeal in GoldTV case”.

Will this be the end of it? Teksavvy could of course try to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), but there is no guarantee the SCC would grant leave to hear the case. One can never pre-judge what the Supreme Court justices may decide in terms of what to add to their docket, but the FCA’s decision was both clear-cut and unanimous, suggesting little grounds for appeal. For now, the GoldTV order remains in place and the way has been cleared for further similar orders. Thus Canada is well on its way to joining the large number of countries that have already instituted blocking of copyright infringing content either through the courts, legislation or an administrative process. The Philippines is but the most recent country to move to implement site blocking as a means to protect legitimate content industries and artists.

An obvious exception is the United States, where an initiative in 2011 to bring in a measured site blocking approach through legislation, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was torpedoed by a coalition of internet platforms and associations, led by Google, Wikipedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others. A campaign of fear-mongering and misinformation led to the withdrawal of the legislation, and the concept of site blocking has remained toxic in the US ever since, notwithstanding its successful introduction in a number of other democracies that are just as concerned with personal freedoms as the US, with the United Kingdom, Australia and now Canada being good examples.

While the courts in Canada have tackled the problem in the absence of specific legislation governing site blocking (as they did in the UK), arguing that a copyright owner is “entitled to all remedies by way of injunction, damages, accounts, delivery up and otherwise that are or may be conferred by law for the infringement of a right”, other countries such as Australia have passed legislation (enacted in 2015, amended in 2018) to address the issue. Australia has been one of the more successful regimes to curtail widespread online offshore piracy.  Canada is also considering legislation.

As part of the process for updating the legal regime for protection of copyrighted content in the digital environment, a consultation paper “A Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries” has recently been released by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED). ISED is the department of government in Canada that has statutory authority for the Copyright Act. The paper posits a wide range of options for dealing with online copyright infringement and the role of intermediaries, with public comments sought by May 31. One of the options is to establish a statutory basis for site-blocking in cases of copyright infringement, subject to a number of conditions such as prima facie infringement, prior notice, technical feasibility, irreparable harm, effectiveness, complexity and cost, and safeguards. The paper cautiously notes that “establishing such a remedy in legislation could be warranted” given that there is already a legal basis for such orders, i.e. the GoldTV case. It thus appears that the Federal Court’s decision has helped move the bureaucratic process forward in terms of potential legislation, although one has to wonder if legislation is really necessary now that the courts have already dealt with the issue on the basis of existing law.

Any legislative solution will be a slow process given the input from across the spectrum of stakeholders, with a number no doubt opposed to any form of site blocking based on the usual exaggerated objections related to net neutrality and online freedom of expression. The result may be gridlock with proponents and objectors engaged in extensive lobbying of a Parliament where the government is in a minority situation and has a number of other difficult content and technology issues on its plate. It is therefore all the more welcome that the FCA has upheld the initial site blocking order of the Federal Court and confirmed that site blocking orders are available in Canada as a form of relief against offshore pirate websites.

This article was originally published in Hugh Stephens Blog

Categories
Industry Interview Piracy

Screens & Cinemas: Resilience Through Uncertainty

The conversation focused on the state-of-affairs within the Indian cinema exhibition sector, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt businesses across the world. Mr. Gianchandani shares valuable insights on how the exhibition industry coped during the pandemic, and the new trends that have surfaced in its wake.

On the impact of the pandemic, Mr Gianchandani said that the Indian film industry saw a 96% drop in the year of Apr 2020 – Mar 2021 – a decrease of roughly 11,000 Cr in revenue compared to the previous year. There has also been additional impact on revenues in terms of lost concession sales, and screen advertising sales, he observed.

However, he said that despite these unprecedented challenges, cinema operators have showed resilience and capacity to adapt. To that end, he said, between October 2020 – March 2021, when theatres were allowed to open, cinema operators worked on ensuring that staff and cinema goers were able to return to theatres safely.

Further, he said that once cinemas were allowed to open between Oct 2020 to Mar 2021, they faced new challenges like lack of new film content from the Hindi film industry, which forced them to focus on promoting regional and foreign language films. He expressed hope in the fact that even small budget regional content like ‘Jathi Ratanalu’ performed well in limited capacity screenings. Cash and liquidity management, crucial in these uncertain times, was key and the team at PVR succeeded in doing that, he added.

In addition, he said that cinema operators, including PVR, also actively pursued seeking support from the government – in terms of convincing them to permit cinemas to reopen, and to provide them with relief measures. This was done to ensure the industry was supported and could come back to a recovery process at the earliest.

Regarding the issue of piracy, he said that since it is the number one challenge faced by exhibitors in terms of revenue loss, the sector would be eager to see the regulatory environment become stricter, and to see incidents of piracy dealt with in a more stringent manner.

He mentioned that the Multiplex Association of India (MAI), along with content suppliers and studio partners, is committed to running anti-piracy campaigns in cinemas, ensuring that all precautions are undertaken, and remedial measures are in place in case of an incident of piracy is reported.

As for growth of screen density, he said that pre-Covid-19, a growth of about 350-500 screens per year was recorded. However, he continued, that due to the pandemic, the number of screens added this year would only be roughly 60-70 screens. In terms of bringing back pre-Covid-19 levels of overall growth, he opined that exhibitors’ efforts will begin to show results by 2023.

However, he believes that dealing with retail infrastructure will continue to be a challenge for the sector in the coming years, and dealing with the impact of Covid-19 will be an added challenge. He observed that for accelerating growth, help from the government in terms of investor-friendly policies and schemes would greatly benefit the sector.

In terms of the growth of OTT services and their impact on theatres, he said, “Though streaming platforms are great entertainment formats, there was and continues to be a need for people to experience watching a movie in a social environment, especially in times of uncertainty.”

On the role of technological innovations in audience engagement and enhancing the cinema experience, he mentioned that Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Glassless 3D, and 4D experiences will play a key role.

Continuing, he said that cinemas are also investing in enhancing essential digitisation services like WebInApps, and creating leverage with the help of digital marketing. For instance, he said, digital marketing plays a vital role in engaging PVR’s 2 Cr royalty members. He also touched upon PVR’s experiments with smaller personalised experiences for moviegoers like mobile-free screenings, wherein patrons leave their mobile phones outside the theatre to have a passive experience, surrendering completely to the art.

One concept he sees gaining traction in the near future is that of boutique cinemas. Though beginning as a reaction to Covid-19, he expects to see the premium movie-going experience becoming a norm.

For more insights on the matter, view our video interview with Mr. Gianchandani.

 

Categories
Piracy

Blocking Offshore Pirate Content Sites: The Philippines is Joining a Growing International Consensus

In the ongoing struggle against content piracy, a global scourge that undermines and competes unfairly with legitimate content producers and distributors, blocking offshore web and streaming sites that distribute pirated content has proven to be an effective tool in many countries. It provides a remedy to deal with scofflaws that cannot be reached by domestic laws or regulation. Now the Philippines, an important market for domestic and international content, is about to join a growing international consensus by implementing its own site blocking regime.

It was announced in mid-April that the major ISPs in  the nation of over 100 million, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the telecom sector regulator, have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will institute a fast, efficient and effective site blocking regime. The targeted site blocking process has arobust framework that  will guide IPOPHL’s consideration in determining what constitutes flagrant infringement and ensure that only egregious piracy websites are blocked. Upon receipt of a rights holder’s referral and supporting documentation, IPOPHL will conduct a further investigation to confirm that an identified site is indeed distributing infringing material before referring the case to the NTC for issuance of a blocking order. ISPs have agreed to comply with these orders.

The Philippines has a vibrant domestic film and television industry but also one of the highest rates of piracy in Asia. In a YouGov survey dated September 2020, 49 percent of Philippine respondents admitted to accessing piracy streaming sites, with the total being over 50 percent in the 25 to 34 year age bracket. Almost half of these consumers indicated that, after accessing pirated content, they had cancelled subscriptions to local and international content services, an estimated annual loss of $120 million to the legitimate subscription OTT video industry alone, according to Media Partners Asia. This situation is in marked contrast to the situation in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, where site blocking measures instituted over the past couple of years have helped to reduce significantly what previously were similar levels of consumption of pirated content by local consumers and migrated many of those consumers to legal services.

What has brought about this change in the Philippines? It is a combination of alignment of the interests of the key players, combined with strong local leadership and some external assistance, prompted by a realization that consistently high levels of piracy serve no-one’s interests. The lesson from last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) no doubt played a role as a catalyst. The Festival has been highlighting the best of Filipino talent since the 1970s. In 2020, because of COVID-19, it went virtual. COVID had already forced many theatres to close, thus leading to a surge in consumption of streaming content. Last year the MMFF tried to offset the loss of box office revenue through Video-on-Demand streaming but the result was a disaster. Because of widespread piracy, receipts totalled less than two percent of 2019 revenues. The Manila Times reported that;

MMFF 2020 Best Picture “Fan Girl” executive producer Quark Henares revealed that his team closely monitored illegal online streaming and found 10 to 20 pirated links every hour.”

Often the enemy of introducing new measures to fight piracy is inertia and bureaucratic process, sometimes combined with misguided arguments that any attempt to deal with pirated content through blocking orders amounts to “internet censorship”. While the experience of the MMFF may or may not have been the spark that lit the fire, the leadership of key local players in the Philippines to address the serious piracy issues was critical. Among these is Globe Telecom, the largest telecom company in the country and a major distributor of online content. Several years ago, Globe launched a public awareness campaign against piracy and illicit content on the internet called “#Play it Right”. The objectives of Globe’s campaign are to combat illicit content on its networks, including pirated content and online child exploitation, and to protect its customers from malware, ID theft and ransomware, often by-products that come with accessing pirate sites.

AVIA, the regional video industry association based in Hong Kong and Singapore, has also played a constructive role. AVIA has signed a separate MOU with the Philippines Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL) to support the initiative and will be active in providing the Office with information on egregious piracy sites. AVIA has also worked on site blocking mechanisms with authorities in other Southeast Asian countries and has useful experience to share. The mechanism envisaged for the Philippines is an administrative process, with the major ISPs (Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications Inc., PLDT Inc., Sky Cable Corp., Converge ICT Solutions Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corp.) participating voluntarily. IPOPHL under its proactive Director-General Rowel Barba–former Undersecretary at the Department of Trade and Industry—has played the lead role in formulating the site blocking mechanism.

Administrative site blocking regimes have been instituted in a number of places, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and some European countries while other countries (e.g. Australia, France) have required specific legislation to enable blocking. In yet others blocking orders have been issued by the courts applying existing legislation (UK, Canada). While the immediate priority in the Philippines is to put the MOU into action, a parallel legislative initiative is also underway in the Philippine Congress and Senate. Legislation, however, takes time and is subject to many pressures and uncertainties such as election cycles and legislative agenda in terms of eventual outcome, in the Philippines as elsewhere. In the meantime, the MOU between the ISPs, IPOPHL and the National Telecommunications Commission offers a widely supported way forward to deal effectively with the issue now.

The piracy situation in the Philippines needs urgent action, a situation recognized by all the stakeholders. The first blocking orders should be issued soon and then the Philippines will join the more than fifty countries world-wide that have adopted site blocking mechanisms in one form or another. Philippine creators, cultural industries content distributors and consumers will all benefit from this long-overdue step.

This article was originally published in Hugh Stephens Blog