Copyright in the Digital Age
INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - February 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Creative industries are globally recognized as major drivers of inclusive economic growth. The Arangkada Philippines Policy Brief on Creative Industries comes to the conclusion ‘that the Philippines can be an important internationally known and competitive creative economy.’

The Policy Brief ends on this positive note: ‘The intangible quality of creative assets provides infinite possibilities to monetize ideas and innovation. Effective implementation of reforms in the sector will give the Philippine Creative Economy the needed push to realize its full potential as the country’s next sunrise industry.’

It has to be understood that creative industries are built on intellectual property rights and its protection. How does the Philippines compare with other Asian economies in terms of IP protection? Unfortunately not that well, the country ranks 11 of 15 countries.

The International Intellectual Property Index lists the strengths and weakness of the Philippines as follows: While most basic IP rights are protected under the legislation, the Philippines key weaknesses include barriers to licensing and technology transfer, significant gaps in life sciences and content-related IP rights, insufficient digital protection and rampant online piracy.

While the Philippine government jointly with the private sector should address the weaknesses without delay, let’s jump to Europe. The EU reached a tentative breakthrough deal last week on copyright issues in the digital age, which it claims will better reward authors, artists and journalists, and empower them in their relations with Internet giants. If it becomes law, it will make sure that Internet platforms pay more for the use of creative work, and better protect press publishers from unauthorized digital reproduction and distribution.

While the EU Computer and Communications Industry Association feels that such a regulation could harm online innovation, scale-ups and restrict online freedom, the EU Commissioner, pushing it, said: ‘Freedoms and rights enjoyed by Internet users today will be enhanced, creators will be better remunerated for their work, and the Internet economy will have clearer rules for operating and thriving.’

Many EU officials and legislators feel YouTube, Google News and other major Internet companies (you know them well?) hold an undue edge in the digital marketplace. The lawmakers are firmly of the opinion, that the deal will be an important step toward correcting a situation which has allowed a few companies to earn huge sums of money without properly remunerating the thousands of creatives and journalists whose work they depend on. In their view, it makes the Internet ready for the future, a space which benefits everyone, not only a powerful few.

Back to the Philippines’ Creative Industries: The Philippine government has started to recognize the importance of valuing the creative economy. The 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan highlights the need to develop programs that can maximize the potential of Filipino creativity and its potential in contributing to the economy as a whole. This also includes awareness and recognition for the arts and promoting creative excellence both domestically and internationally.

As the Philippine creative economy aspires to accelerate its growth, the political environment has imposed restrictions that limit the country’s creative industries. Certain laws, such as restrictions on foreign ownership of media and advertising, discourage foreign investment into the country’s creative industries. Foreign investments often bring more advanced technology and practices that can be replicated locally. Other restrictions are found in the execution of key creative professions by foreigners in the country.

Let me finish wish the ambitious vision developed by the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CEPT) and the Dept. of Trade and Industry: “By 2030, the Philippines will be the #1 Creative Economy in ASEAN in terms of size and value of our creative industries, as well as the competitiveness and attractiveness of our creative talent and content in international markets.”

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