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IPOPHL Chief to Pols: Respect IP law by seeking permission from copyright holders

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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is reminding candidates and their political parties to strictly observe the IP Code of 1997 by seeking authorization from intellectual property (IP) owners and compensating them to use their works for their campaigns. 

Given the massive use of copyrighted works — such as photos, audiovisual content and songs, among many others — for political advertisements and promotional materials, Director General Rowel S. Barba said “the election period is a great time for candidates to help artists recover from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.”

“I hope candidates compensate our artists fairly for their contributions in creating more effective and creative campaign messages,” Barba said, noting that playing copyrighted works like songs to the public, even through sorties or motorcades, may also require a fee. 

But before making any payment, candidates must always seek IP right holders’ permission first before using their works, according to the IPOPHL chief. 

“Even as candidates are willing to pay a handsome fee, they first and foremost have to ask copyright holders’ permission to use their works in their political ads, and respect their decision if their proposals are turned down if it’s because they refuse any association from a certain political party,” Barba said. 

The right to refuse the communication of a work to the public is part of the set of economic and moral rights granted to copyright holders by the IP Code of 1997. 

Barba said candidates can now simply find the copyright holders and message them through social media networks to seek permission. 

To use a song, musical composition or sound recording, candidates can also reach out to the relevant IPOPHL-accredited collective management organizations (CMOs), namely Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP), Philippines Recorded Music Rights Inc. (PRM) or the Independent Music Producers of the Philippines (IMPRO), to find the music copyright owners, seek permission or to negotiate a fee. 

Barba noted that while campaign jingles had been the biggest source of infringement complaints in past election periods, the agency remains to have its eyes wide open on possible cases and disputes that may arise involving new marketing trends in the 2022 elections. 

The IPOPHL chief also noted that with social media now becoming the battleground for political marketing, IPOPHL is closely watching developments on various social media platforms. 

He encouraged aggrieved artists to also closely monitor political campaigns and take advantage of social media platforms’ mechanisms to enforce their IP rights, whether by demanding a fee or requesting a take-down of infringing content. 

Barba warned that with the public now more aware of IP and copyright, candidates should ensure they have a high ethical standard in using others’ works. 

“Candidates must be mindful of how they use copyrighted works, and encourage their supporters to do the same when creating materials for their online promotions or self-organized rallies if they want to avoid backlash and a decrease in supporters,” Barba said. 

“In the past, electorates would learn about copyright and IP due to infringement issues that candidates would be embroiled in. Hopefully, this election season will be different in that candidates respect and promote respect for IP rights instead of stealing them,” the IPOPHL chief added. 

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