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Balancing rights of authors and end users

03:18 AM February 04, 2017

About two years ago, there was a news clip on British authors declining invitations to a literary festival because the organizers were deemed less than professional in not offering each an honorarium. The authors were asserting their right to be compensated for work, like all other workers.

It was welcome news to writers in Manila who constantly go through similar circumstances. In spending time on preparing a presentation for any audience, aren’t authors right to “demand” a professional fee? (Sadly, we are often too polite to do so.)

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I may have sounded crass and materialistic two years ago when I turned down an invitation for an author visit to a school—otherwise something I truly enjoy—because the host said the organizers had no budget for the event. Short of saying that they had no business then inviting any author, I suggested that the school include such events in planning subsequent budgets. I explained that I was declining because I wanted such an event to be a professional activity for all authors, who should be recognized for their worth.

That is why we laud efforts such as those of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society Inc. (Filcols) in demanding that the rights of authors and publishers be respected, and that they be properly compensated “when works are reused through large-scale photocopying and digital copying for noncommercial, internal and institutional use.”

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How does Filcols carry out its mandate as the collective management organization (CMO) accredited by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to represent the reproduction rights of the works of authors and publishers, even as it allows easy and legitimate access to copy portions of books, journals, magazines and newspapers?

Probably the most tangible evidence of Filcols’ existence is the prominent warning in copy shops that only 10 pages of any book may be copied.

With the amendment of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 10372 Sec. 230) in 2013, Filcols and the Book Development Association of the Philippines then headed by the late Lirio Sandoval crafted its Fair Use Guidelines stating that the publishing industry agrees that copying 5 percent of a work may be considered fair use, with no need to compensate the author or publisher. This means that copying no more than 10 pages of a 200-page book is allowable.

Should the school, university, business, or organization need to reproduce beyond 5 percent, it should get a license from Filcols. As mandated by rights holders, Filcols may license 20 percent or a chapter of a book. If the book is out of print and the rights have reverted back to the author, then a license to make a digital copy or photocopy of the entire material is permitted. The author will then receive a higher remuneration because the publisher will no longer get a share.

Filcols’ main licensee is the Department of Education (DepEd). The others are the Synergeia Foundation and the provincial government of Bulacan. The DepEd determines the rights holders by combing through the list of works and the learning resources that it uses.

In Australia and Singapore, students desiring to copy a published material write on slips of paper the pertinent details, such as name of author, publisher, number of pages, etc.

Since, as in other CMOs, membership is free in Filcols, it operates on its allowable 30-percent administration fee from the rights income of registered authors. Filcols has a lean 3-person team headed by executive director Alvin Buenaventura, but its awareness campaigns and engagements with government and stakeholders were acknowledged as a finalist in the international excellence awards for copyright protection awarded by the London Book Fair and the UK Publishers’ Association in 2015.

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Its current set of officers includes Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. (chair), Ricky Lee, Karina Bolasco, John Jack Wigley, Beverly W. Siy, Marne Kilates and Paolo Sibal. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: author's rights, Filcols, Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society Inc., Inquirer column, Inquirer columnist, Inquirer Opinion, Intellectual Property Code, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, intellectual property rights, Learning Curve, Neni Sta. Romana Cruz
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