Essay, 11 pages (2500 words)

History of what is piracy media essay

In its typical sense, the word piracy refers to the manufacturing of unauthorized copies pirated copies of protected and copyrighted material and then distributing or selling said copies. The rights of authorization infringed by those who make and deal in pirate copies are the rights of authorship generally protected by copyright, as well as the rights of ownership, particularly in the case of sound recordings, which are generally protected by neighboring rights regimes. In its wider sense, and as often spoken of in the popular press, “ piracy” may also refer to acts of “ bootlegging” (the making of an unauthorized recording of a live performance) and of “ counterfeiting” (selling works made to resemble a genuine copy, as by replicating the label, the packaging, or the recording itself).


Piracy in the West

The word ‘ piracy’ was used to label the infringement of exclusive rights in creative works for the first time in 1603, and, as such, predates any statutory law. Before the establishment of the Statute of Anne (which was the first copyright law in the Kingdom of Great Britain) in 1709, the Stationer’s Company of London was given a Royal Charter in 1557, which gave the company a monopoly on publication, as well as the responsibility of enforcing the charter. Those people who were found violating the charter were labeled ‘ pirates’ as early as 1603. After the Statute of Anne was established, the term ‘ piracy’ was used to describe the illicit manufacturing, sale and distribution of copyrighted material.

b. Piracy in the Philippines

Piracy of films and music in the Philippines has existed since the technology necessary to replicate tapes and disks became easier, cheaper and more available.

In the 1970’s, the cassette became a popular music format; and, as such, opened up a whole new market for portable music. Tape recorders also became easily accessible and cheap to the market, which brought along the problem of pirated music cassettes.

In the 1980’s, the Betamax became the first audiovisual playback device that gave the public the opportunity to record a show. This brought a trend in the Philippines. However, during martial Law, access to foreign material was limited. There would usually be a delay of a few months before a movie would be viewable in local theaters. This gave birth to the era of video rental shops, and these shops became a refuge for the entertainment-hungry Filipino.

Betamax players were phased out in other parts of the world, to be replaced by video home systems (VHS) and laser discs. However, they did not become obsolete here in the Philippines. In fact, the loss of Betamax player buyers caused its price to plummet and become very affordable, causing its popularity to increase drastically. (“ Beginnings of Piracy”, omb. gov. ph) The trend repeated itself with the VHS. At the same time that this was happening, camcorders were also being made. People discovered that camcorders were easy to use because they could bring it inside a cinema and record the movie showing. From the VHS, the material used moved to video compact discs (VCDs) and now we are using digital video discs (DVDs). All of these made possible by the advancing and upgrading of technology.

Forms of Piracy

Optical Disk Piracy

Optical disk piracy refers to the illegal distribution, manufacturing, trade and/or sale of copies of movies, television programs, software programs, music, and games in digital disc formats which include Blu-Ray, DVD, DVD-R, CD, CD-R and VCD. These disks are sold on websites, online auction sites, via e-mail solicitation and by street vendors and flea markets around the world. The relatively inexpensive cost of blank discs and reliable disk-burning machines has led to the increase in number of DVD-R and CD-R burner labs.

Internet Piracy

In general, Internet piracy refers to the employment of the Internet to supply unauthorized downloadable copies of music, games, television, movies, and software programs. Internet piracy can also refer to the use of the Internet to spread codes or other technologies to bypass anti-copying security features in software products. Auction sites, Peer to Peer (P2P) networks, social networking sites, B2B websites and botnets are all common paths through which Internet piracy occurs.

Theatrical Print Theft

Theatrical print theft is exactly as its name suggests-the theft of an actual film print, usually 35 or 16 mm types, from a film depot, theater, courier service or other industry related facility, purely for the purpose of making illegal duplicates and then selling and/or distributing them. Having the original film print then allows the pirate to craft a high quality videotape from the original, which then serves as a ‘ master’ copy for future duplication purposes. However, this form of piracy is extremely rare, mostly because it is difficult to even obtain the prints and it is difficult to transfer the print to another format.

Signal Theft

Signal theft occurs when someone gains access to a cable TV system without the cable service provider being informed, or when someone receives satellite signals illegally. Usually pirates will provide satellite signal descramblers or illegal cable decoders for consumers.

Counterfeit Consumer Goods

Counterfeit consumer goods, regularly called knock-offs, are counterfeit or imitation products presented for sale. The spread of counterfeit goods has become global lately and the range of produce subject to infringement is greater than before.

Effects of Film Piracy

First of all, I would like to stress that the main focus of this paper is on film piracy; therefore, the following points will deal with the effects of film piracy in particular.

Economic Effects

a. Business Loss in the Part of the Producers

Those who are most obviously affected by film piracy are the people who invested their money and resources into the production of said motion picture. Seeing as how they gain returns on their investments through the sales of their film, allowing pirates to sell copies of the film without having to forward any margin of their profits to the producers of the original film would effectively rob the producers of the money they ought to earn if consumers were to purchase copies of the film from them rather than the pirates.

One of the effects of piracy to films, especially local films, is that it shows that the people do not really support the films shown. It is a big problem especially during the Manila Film Festival. Piracy makes it an option for the people to wait for a cheaper alternative, and just watch it at home.

Another of the effects is this: through the introduction of the illegal pirate market, pirates are effectively providing less expensive alternatives to the original at nearly, if not the same quality. This forces the producers to lower their selling prices in order to compete with the illegal market. We need only to look at the prices of original DVD’s over the last few years in order to show this. In 2005, the prices of legal DVD’s were about Php 700. Now, the prices have gone as low as Php 250 for two DVD’s. Still, these prices are still not as preferable as the prices for an illegal DVD, which can go as low as four DVD’s for Php 100.

These effects can easily discourage any person from producing his own film for fear that he may not get a good return on his investment. If this continues, there may come a time when independent films will simply cease to be made.

Social Effects

Of course, the consumers are completely aware and fully informed that purchasing pirated DVD’s practically amount to theft, but still people continue to patronize these illegal merchants. The existence of these pirated goods, these less-expensive alternative goods, is clearly promoting lower moral values and ethics. It is a well-known fact that, if presented a choice between two products that are of the same quality but of different price, consumers will always choose the product with the lower price. But in most cases, if you mention that the cheaper one will prevent cash from going to the producer of the good, then most consumers will suddenly have second thoughts. Unfortunately, this seems to happen only to a handful of consumers when it comes to movie piracy, providing more evidence to the case that film piracy promotes lower ethical standards and morals.

Chapter III

Actions and Precautions

This chapter will deal with the actions and precautions taken in order to combat film piracy here in the National Capital Region.

A. Local Goverment

1. Municipal Level

As far as my research has uncovered, only two cities here in the Philippines have enacted a total ban on piracy in any area of the city. They are the cities of Manila and Quezon.

It is important to note that the Quiapo district in Manila was previously listed as “ among the world’s 21 most ‘ notorious markets’ for pirated and counterfeit items.” This caused Manila authorities to implement a ‘ total ban on the sale of pirated DVDs’ in the district and other parts of the city last July 28, 2011.(Esplanada, 2011) Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim previously gave a 1-month grace period for the DVD vendors in Quiapo to leave the illegal trade. Some vendors said they would obey Lim’s order, but others complained, claiming that they might not be able to feed their children. Some believe that the government’s campaign against piracy will not last long, allowing the vendors to go back into this illegal trade; however, Manila officials strained that they were serious about applying this ban.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista also declared a total ban on the sale and distribution of pirated discs in Quezon City, and has united with the Optical Media Board in enforcing Republic Act 9239 and City Ordinance No. SP1608, S2005. These two laws make illegal the distribution, transfer, manufacture, rental, and/or sale of fake, pirated, or counterfeit articles, services or goods. (Chavez, 2011)

B. National Government

In the past, the Philippine government has made it a state policy to protect intellectual property rights. This policy was enshrined in both the 1973 Constitution which offers “ the exclusive right to inventions, writings and artistic creations shall be secured to inventors, authors, and artists for a limited period” and in the 1987 Constitution which clearly mandates that the State shall protect intellectual property.

1. Laws, Acts, and Orders


In 1993, President Fidel Ramos issued an executive order that created the Inter-Agency Committee on Intellectual Property Rights. It was supposed to recommend and enforce policies that protect intellectual property rights. (Executive Order 60. 1993)


On June 21, 2008 the NCIPR was established to coordinate inter-agency efforts against counterfeiting and piracy, and to provide maximum benefits to Filipinos and ensure significant contributions to national development. (Executive Order 736, 2008)

Republic Act 10088 – Anti-Camcording Act of 2010


In layman terms, this act forbids the recording of a cinematographic film or other audio visual work and/or its soundtrack in a theater or similar venue. Penalties range from a fine of Php 50, 000. 00 up to Php 750, 000. 00, and imprisonment of six months and one day up to six years and one day. (Republic Act 10008, 2010)


Commonly known as the Optical Media Act of 2003, this act reorganized the Videogram Regulatory Board, created under Presidential Decree No. 1987, into the Optical Media Board (OMB). This act established the OMB in order to evaluate the qualifications of any establishment, individual, or entity to engage in the mastering, manufacture or replication of optical media, conduct inspections and raids, etc.

In recent news, the Optical Media Board has been active in terms of confiscating pirated DVDs. It has partnered with the government of the City of Manila in keeping the Quiapo district, which was recently named one of the most notorious markets for pirated and counterfeit goods, free of pirates.

Republic Act 8293 – Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines


[a] Examine applications for grant of letters patent for inventions and register utility models and industrial designs;

[b] Examine applications for the registration of marks, geographic indication, integrated circuits;

[c] Register technology transfer arrangements and settle disputes involving technology transfer payments covered by the provisions of Part II, Chapter IX on Voluntary Licensing and develop and implement strategies to promote and facilitate technology transfer;

[d] Promote the use of patent information as a tool for technology development;

[e] Publish regularly in its own publication the patents, marks, utility models and industrial designs, issued and approved, and the technology transfer arrangements registered;

[f]Administratively adjudicate contested proceedings affecting intellectual property rights; and

[g] Coordinate with other government agencies and the private sector efforts to formulate and implement plans and policies to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights in the country. (Republic Act 8293, 1997)

Chapter IV


A. Results of Operations

The website of the Intellectual Property Rights Philippines has been so kind to provide data on how much pirated and/or counterfeit goods have been confiscated in the past several years. Unfortunately, the data has proven too voluminous for this paper, so I have condensed it into this graph.

Unfortunately, these figures can mean two things. Either these raids and confiscations are indeed improving and these acts, laws, and actions against piracy are allowing us to legally seize more illegal goods, or, the pirate market is simply growing at an exponential rate and we just happen to be able to confiscate more things simply because there is more to seize.

So, it has come to my attention that one of the best ways to discover whether the government’s methods against piracy are working is to ask those who are sure to be affected (if ever they are): the men and women who man the stalls that sell pirated movies.

To my surprise, I discovered that the vendors I had interviewed indeed were experiencing a much harder livelihood compared to a few years back-but not because of laws and actions made by the government. Their main reason for the increase in difficulty of sales of their product is none other than competition.

The rise of the number of vendors can only prove one thing, and that is that the government and the movie industry, despite their efforts, were unable to effectively trim the piracy problem in the last few years.

However, according to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), we [the Philippines] are one step closer from being removed from the watch list for counterfeit and pirated goods.

B. Difficulties in Fighting Film Piracy

1. Greater Demand

As has been stated before, film piracy has made the pastime of watching movies and shows much cheaper and easier, which makes it no surprise to find that more people would prefer to purchase a pirated DVD simply because it is much cheaper and much easier to find. It is much more convenient to buy a pirated DVD and watch it at home anytime they want than to go to a mall and spend more money. One thing that film piracy offers that people also look for is the range of movies available. It is not hard to find an all-time favorite, or an old or new movie.

2. Loss of Livelihood

Many people rely on their sales of pirated discs in order to support their families. That being said, one of the government’s problems in fighting piracy is finding alternate livelihoods and jobs for those vendors who are to be affected by the bans. This was one of the issues that Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista had to deal with first when he declared a ban on the sale of pirated discs in July 2011, especially because those vendors were willing to not put up a fight, and all they asked for in exchange is for the government to provide jobs for them when the ban would start.

3. Incomplete Dedication of Enforcers

It is sad that many of those on law-enforcement duty simply look the other way when it comes to piracy. Whether out of bribery or sheer ignorance, we’ll never know. A fine example of this is the flea market known colloquially as ‘ Ruins’, located in Sucat, Parañaque city. It is a known center for pirated disc vendors, but less than a block away, lies the [Sucat PNP station]. I find it strange that there is next to nothing being done on the part of the PNP when such a large trove of illegal pirates is sitting right under their noses. This shows that not all enforcers are consistent, that others tolerate such crime, and that they may be supporting the idea and action of piracy. It is a bad view on the enforcers. The sellers would also be at ease in selling these pirated products.

4. Tolerance of officials?

Piracy has reached such a level of popularity that even those with respectable positions in the government are prone to being clients. Take Ronaldo Llamas for example, he was Presidential Political Affairs Adviser and yet was STILL caught red-handed purchasing pirated DVD’s in Circle C Mall along Congressional Avenue in Quezon City.

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