Monday, August 23, 2010

Film industry lauds law vs. camcording

(Published Aug. 18, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Nine percent of all secretly camcorded films in 2009 were traced to Southeast Asia, and almost all of these originated from the Philippines, according to Mike Robinson, chief operations officer of the Motion Picture Association (MPA).

“We have found copies of movies illegally recorded in the Philippines in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and other Asian countries,” said Robinson during a recent press briefing on the implementation of Republic Act 10088, or the Anti-Camcording Law of 2010, organized by the MPA, an international trade organization for the film industry. Robinson said the member-companies of the content-protecting MPA are “pleased” and proud about “the first law of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Also present during the event were the MPA’s local industry partners—the National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP), the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council (MPAFPC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

During the event held at Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club, a Memorandum of Understanding among the industry parties was signed to “ignite stronger initiatives to curtail if not fully eradicate the problem of unauthorized camcording (sic) activities in the Philippines.”

“It really sends the message that the Philippines is serious about intellectual property protection,” Robinson said. “There was a training seminar earlier that really brought together the local law enforcement authorities and the theater owners. They talked about how to implement this and what to do when they spot a camcorder.”

Robinson stressed that camcording isn’t a “casual, victimless” crime—camcorders face a minimum of six months to six years in jail.

“It’s not just Hollywood titles; they’re doing it to virtually every movie that is produced in the Philippines,” he said. “They lose it all so quickly to someone making an illegal copy in the theater. It’s shameful.”

Robinson expressed optimism, however, when he compared the current situation to another country’s problems with camcorder-related piracy.

“This is exactly the pattern of behavior we learned about in Canada,” Robinson explained. “They had reached a point where 40 percent of all camcords were coming out of Canada; the law was passed two and a half years ago and we have all but stopped camcording there. We hope that the Anti-Camcording Law will be a deterrent. We hope the message gets out.”

Lawyer Joji Alonso, Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council legal counsel, echoed Robinson’s statements, adding that Republic Act 10088 would certainly be helpful to the Filipino movie industry.

“We are down to making less than 50 films a year,” Alonso said. “The bulk of these are independent films, which really don’t make much money, or probably lose more in the process of production. One of the main culprits is piracy. Producers have been trying their best to stop it but it seems that nothing could really be done. We’re hoping that with this law, piracy will be diminished, and perhaps more producers will be encouraged to make films.”

During the ’80s and ’90s, Regal Films produced 30 to 40 movies a year, according to Regal Entertainment’s “Mother” Lily Monteverde.

“That number has gone down,” she said. “I’m sure my fellow movie producers will agree that movie production in this country has been a victim of piracy for a long time now.”

Monteverde lamented that the producer, instead of earning a substantial profit, loses money because the public chooses to patronize pirated copies.

“It is very sad to know that the proliferation of fake DVDs highly stems from the movie illegally camcorded inside the theater,” said Monteverde. “We encourage the public to report camcording.”

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