Solon Accused of Conflict of Interest Over Proposed Anti-Online Piracy Act
Party-List Representative Irwin Tieng has recently introduced House Bill 6187, the Anti-Online Piracy Act that seeks to punish those who download pirated media with at least two years in prison and fines starting at ₱50,000.
According to the Daily Dot, a crowd-sourced news site, this represents a conflict of interest. The member of the Philippine House of Representatives is the nephew of Wilson Tieng, the CEO of Solar Entertainment.
In an official statement released through the Philippine Congress website, Tieng said that illegal downloads “has regrettably become a cash-cow for the criminals and organized crime cartels”. The congressman characterized downloading pirated copies of music and movies as “no more justifiable than shoplifting”.
The proposed Anti-Online Piracy Act proscribes two years of imprisonment and fines ranging from ₱50,000 to ₱150,000 on first time offenders. For “second time violators”, the punishment increases to 3 years jail time and ₱150,000 to ₱300,000 in fines. Succeeding violations will lead to five years imprisonment and fines from ₱300,000 to 1 million.
Tieng’s fellow Buhay Party-List Representative, Mariano Michael Velarde, characterized the proposed bill as part of the Philippines’ efforts to fulfill the commitments of the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WCT), of which the country is a signatory.
The official statement also quotes Velarde as saying that “the bill prohibits and declares it unlawful for any person to make in a manner not authorized by the copyright owner, copies of music recordings or films, in complete or substantially complete form, by any means, including but not limited to uploading, downloading or streaming.”
It’s that last part that worries me. So if anyone is caught listening to a copy of a song on YouTube (“streaming”), which was uploaded by someone else without the copyright holder’s consent, would they be liable under House Bill 6187? Does this mean the simple act of watching videos like this would lead to two years in jail and a hefty ₱50,000 fine?
At least the official statement announcing the House Bill gives lip service to the enforcement part:
For effective implementation, the Department of Justice (DOJ), in coordination with other concerned government agencies and instrumentalities, shall jointly formulate the necessary rules and regulations.
Still, the Anti-Online Piracy Act looks like yet another attempt to push through overly broad and vague copyright-related legislation, without consideration for the realities of the internet and how it has affected media consumption.
I’m definitely not against theft, and I also not against people profiting from the music, movies, video games, and other kinds of media they create. But I am against a law that could potentially punish watching a YouTube video with up to 3 years in jail and a fine of one million pesos.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2012 at 10:35 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.