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Monday, July 22, 2024

Another feast for online pirates

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“As consumers we have the power to kill online piracy by simply patronizing legitimate websites whenever we want to satisfy our hunger for entertainment”

Synchronized with the Christmas season is the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) which has become the traditional and the biggest showcase of the Philippine film industry.

For millions of Filipino movie lovers, the MMFF has become part of their holiday itinerary and an affordable option to spending quality time with loved ones and enjoy this year’s best entries competing for the prestigious awards of the festival.

On the other hand, the MMFF is an economic opportunity for our struggling local film industry to benefit from eight days of access to Philippine movie venues without having to compete with the high budget films from the giant film companies in Hollywood.

But what will ruin this seasonally limited opportunity is the perennial problem of digital piracy which threatens to kill the film and all copyright-based industries.

According to a 2024 commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization study, they used to pump in approximately P11 billion to the economy.

Based on 2010 data, the creative industries supported 14.13 percent of total jobs and contributed 7.34 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.

It’s truly disheartening to see how online piracy has wreaked havoc on the local film industry.

The industry has been grappling to keep up with foreign productions and streaming platforms, and piracy has only added to its woes.

A report by the Motion Picture Association in 2018 revealed a staggering 47 percent plunge in box office sales and a 72 percent fall in legitimate online transactions from 2012 to 2016 due to online piracy.

What’s more, during the pandemic lockdowns, online pirates made off with an estimated P1 billion in potential revenue that should have gone to local video producers, distributors, and aggregators.

The music industry hasn’t been spared either.

A 2019 study by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the global music industry, ranked the Philippines as the 10th most affected country by online music piracy worldwide.

This resulted in an estimated revenue loss of a whopping $59.6 million.

But the damage caused by online piracy extends beyond just economic losses.

It also undermines the cultural and social value of the people.

By stealing the intellectual property of Filipino artists and creators, online pirates rob them of the recognition and reward they rightfully deserve for their hard and passionate work.

This not only discourages innovation and creativity but also reduces the incentives and opportunities for new and original content to be produced and distributed.

Moreover, consumers who access pirated content expose themselves to significant cybersecurity risks. Pirated content often comes embedded with malicious software that can infect devices, enabling hackers to steal sensitive personal information.

This can lead to unauthorized access to bank accounts, or even worse, lock individuals or entire enterprises out of their internal networks, email systems, databases, and causing serious operational disruptions resulting in both financial and reputational damage.

It’s a grim situation that calls for urgent and effective measures to combat online piracy.

In a recent pronouncement, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has professed to support the recommendation of the Private Sector Advisory Council Digital Infrastructure Group to certify the Online Site Blocking Act (Senate Bills 2150 and 2385) now pending in the Senate as a priority legislation.

These bills are authored by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Bong Revilla respectively and have been pending and need their strong championing being from the Philippine film industry who should know how urgent this law is needed.

The House of Representatives acted fast and already passed HB 7600 authored by Rep. Joey Salceda which authorizes the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and establishes complementing guidelines for internet service providers to block piracy websites.

Each day that a piracy website is allowed to operate is another day stolen revenues enriching these cybercriminals instead of rightfully supporting the Filipino intellectual property owners, producers, content creators, artists, production crew, and linked businesses of the creatives industry.

As we wait for the pace of our legislators to catch up with the speed of this digital world, as consumers we have the power to kill online piracy by simply patronizing legitimate websites whenever we want to satisfy our hunger for entertainment.

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