The Rights Stuff


On April 20, the creative industries in the Philippines celebrated World IP Day by shining the spotlight on illegal streaming. Representatives from government agencies, the distribution, exhibition and telecommunications sectors, along with filmmakers and media, made the case for more to be done to protect creative content at a media conference held in MyCinema (stay tuned for more info). 

As part of the Philippines’ commemoration of WIPD, the local creative industry honors the genius and courage of Filipino men and women who are shaping local cinema, TV, music, literature and other artistic fields – those who inspire the next generation of content creators, raise the bar for these industries, and champion legal means of content consumption.

Filipinos now typically consume content through the Internet; and in today’s digital world, illegal downloading and streaming of content is a widespread problem that will deprive content creators of an ecosystem that encourages creativity and innovation. Online piracy will threaten not only the livelihoods of those in the production of films and television – actors, directors, writers, and producers, camera operators, stuntmen, costume and make-up – but everyone involved in the creative community, from distribution, to exhibition, television and online.

Protecting the backbone of the film industry

Research indicates that P2P file-sharing piracy was tracked at a staggering 502 million film and television downloads in 2017. While showing some level of decline, it is streaming piracy that is spiraling out of control. The average user in the Philippines has increased their use of illegal streaming websites by 74% between 2016 and 2017.

According to an analysis of Alexa data in 2016, Filipino users accessed piracy websites over 22 million times compared to their 18 million visits to the top three legal websites for movies and television shows. Pirate websites have profited from content theft while depriving the actual creators who have invested heavily in the production and distribution of content.

Speaking at the event, Atty. Joji Alonso, producer, Quantum Films, said, “The widespread practice of illegal streaming and downloading sends our community of Filipino filmmakers a troubling message that Filipino audiences do not value their creative thinking and unique artistry. As a nation of movie-lovers and story-tellers, we need to change this mindset that tolerates piracy as unavoidable and acceptable.”

In 2017, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) launched the FDCP National Registry to establish a database of active film workers in the Philippines, which will enable monitoring, protection, and provision of basic social services to its members.

“We are working to improve the stability of working conditions in the Philippine film industry,” said Liza Dino, Chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. “But to ensure that the Philippine film industry remains healthy and able to provide steady employment, we also need the commitment of the Filipino public to support local creators and to stop accessing movies from illegal sources.”    

Internet boom and bane – prompting audiences to be responsible

There are a growing number of legitimate sources for content that are competitively priced. Filipinos have access to a variety of subscription-based streaming services available on different platforms. However, with the growing popularity of Internet-enabled TV, mobile devices and media boxes, customers may not be aware that devices are often used to access films, television and even sports content illegally.

The government, creative industries, Internet and telco providers must work together to find solutions to online piracy in the country. Major markets across the globe have implemented site blocking measures that have been proven effective in preventing illegal sharing and consumption of copyrighted content.

In the Philippines, Globe Telecom has been acknowledged for its #PlayItRight campaign, an initiative to help the entertainment industry curb piracy and protect intellectual property rights. Since its launch in 2017, the campaign has lead to the of blocking illegal torrent sites, particularly those with pornographic content.

Site blocking for copyright has been adopted by 42 countries around the world and has been found to be highly effective. In February, a report by Incopro on site blocking in Australia found that the usage of those websites targeted by blocking orders lead to a decline of 53.4%.

To truly achieve a significant impact on the fight against piracy, public and private sectors must come together to develop a customized site-blocking model against infringing websites, and establish legislation that will provide policy-driven action against illegal downloading and streaming of content.