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MANILA, Philippines -- Various groups in the music, movie and software industries want Congress to pass a bill similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US, a local music executive told InterAksyon.com.
During the launch of MyMusicStore.com.ph on Wednesday, Ramon Chuaying, Universal Records executive vice president, said several industry groups are in talks with various legislators to pass a bill that would curb digital piracy in the Philippines.
These groups include the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI), of which Chuaying is a board director; the Anti-Film Piracy Council; the Motion Picture Association; the Business Software Alliance; and the IP Coalition.
"We are lobbying for Congress to pass an Internet piracy bill, quite similar to US and some parts of Europe," he said. "In other words, if this law passes, we can require the Internet [service] provider to block off websites hosting illegal content."
Chuaying was referring to the US House of Representative's SOPA and its counterpart Senate version, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which has been the subject of protest by a number of Internet companies in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, online encyclopedia Wikipedia restricted access to its English website to protest the legislative bills, which the group said could "fatally damage the free and open Internet" should they become law.
Chuaying said they are prepared for the public backlash should the bill bear fruit in Congress since there was no other means of curbing digital piracy in the Philippines.
"Without protecting the rights of the composer and record companies, there will be no more music industry. Kasi wala nang mag-iinvest eh. Lahat ng mga gingawa mo, pinipirata. So who will be investing in discovering new talent, going to spend for the recording?" he said.
The executive said they are pushing for a law that would encompass all kinds of digital content--whether music, movie or computer software.
Provisions of the proposed measure include authorizing record companies and other content producers to penalize users and websites that violate copyright laws by forcing Internet service providers to discontinue their subscription.
Chuaying said talks with legislators are still in the "very early stages," although Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Senators Edgardo Angara and Loren Legarda have expressed support for such a bill.
In separate text messages to InterAksyon.com, Rodriguez confirmed Chuaying's claim, while Angara said he has yet to "see and study the draft of the Anti-Internet Piracy Act," adding that such a piece of legislation would have "far-reaching implications to Internet users."
Chuaying said they are hoping for the bill's passage this year.
In 2007, Angara filed Senate Bill No. 880, which seeks to "amend the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines" to include Internet piracy. The bill, however, failed to prosper.
Legislative lobbying, Chuaying said, was essential for the local music and film industries, two key sectors that for the past years have bled billions of pesos in lost revenues due to Internet piracy.
"The decline in physical sales caused a big damage to the local music industry," he said. "Imagine, in the past, the Gold record-selling benchmark was 20,000 units. But because of piracy, it was reduced to 7,500 pieces," he said.
"Ang lahat ng mga composer, mga writers, mga recording artists, wala na silang hanapbuhay [if Internet piracy] continues," he added.
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