Watch Out for Another Cyberlaw

Opponents of the Cybercrime Act should be wary of another cyberlaw looming in Congress. Buhay Party-List Representatives Irwin Tieng and Mariano Michael Velarde handed in to the Fifteenth Congress last May, House Bill 6187, proposing An Act to Prohibit Online Piracy and Providing Penalties for Violation Thereof.

Tieng, whose uncle owns Solar Entertainment, said in a Congressional press release that piracy was “no more justifiable than shoplifting.” Together with Velarde, son of El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde, they proposed sanctions against pirates including a minimum of one year in jail for first time offenders, with a maximum of five years after the third offense. Fines proposed by the bill range from P 50,000 to P 1,000,000.

The bill, just one page and a half long excluding the opening note, is quite worrisome with its vague wording ripe for abuse—the same problems plaguing the Cybercrime Act. The brevity of HB 6187 betrays a fundamental misunderstanding on the authors’ part of how the Internet has changed common notions of economics, property, and scarcity (the comparison with “shoplifting” encapsulates this gross lack of comprehension). The bill criminalizes two acts, namely, making copies “not authorized by the copyright owner” and offering goods or services or providing access to media in a manner “not authorized by the copyright owner.”

This kind of wording is imprecise enough to make converting your own media discs illegal. Creating MP3s from your legally-owned CDs falls under “making copies” and doing so without explicit authorization from the copyright owner could land you in jail. Thus, the media industry could sell you several different formats of the same movie or song that you already own just because you wanted a copy for your portable device. Cloud-based backups for private use would be made illegal as saving your media online would entail “uploading” and “downloading” copyrighted data. The same kinds of problems came about when the United States passed its own legislation against copyright infringement, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with the Motion Picture Association of America (to which Tieng is reported to have links) arguing that consumers could not make copies of their own discs.

Unwittingly streaming copyrighted content to your computer could also result in imprisonment. Every time your computer uses Internet data, it creates copies, often temporary, for local access. Such a scenario would be common for visiting sites like YouTube, which hosts many videos that use unlicensed copyrighted content (e.g. background music, concerts, and TV or movie clips). Unlicensed streaming to another computer that you own would also be in violation of the bill. Such slights, which are standard for anyone with Internet access, show just how the replicability of digital data cannot be so easily wished away by thuggish legislation.

In terms of implementation, Tieng and Velarde provide no concrete methods of combating piracy and leave it to the Department of Justice to determine how it would go about this, clinching this bill’s vagueness to the point of absurdity. It is not hard to foresee that determining offenders of the proposed bill would require the DOJ’s use of Orwellian methods such as the real time data snooping legalized by the Cybercrime Act, further encroaching on the right to privacy.

Since the dawn of the VHS, piracy has been made the perennial bogeyman of the media industry in order to lobby for draconian legislation, such as SOPA and PIPA, and stifle freedom of expression (citizens who make mixes, mashups, parodies, even birthday slideshows, should be concerned)—all without concrete evidence regarding its impact.

Even the United States government has been unable to ascertain whether piracy has any detrimental effects at all on the media industry, concluding that it is “difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy as a whole.” (Julian Sanchez of the libertarian Cato Institute has a sober analysis of the reality of digital piracy and Internet regulation and how “reports of the death of the [media industry as a result of piracy] seem much exaggerated.”) Under the guise of protecting the interests of intellectual property rights holders, the media lobby submits these typically oppressive measures, all the while impugning the motives of opponents by branding them as thieves and “shoplifters”, instead of consumers and clients with rights.

Buhay Party-List, whose electoral accreditation Filipino Freethinkers has contested in COMELEC, claims to represent the unborn (without being unborn themselves). Tieng and Velarde were also the authors of HB 4509, a bill outlawing sex toys.


  1. basta ba sundin nila ang batas na sila mismong gumawa. may mga nagsesermon tungkol sa anti piracy ganito, anti piracy ganyan, pero sila mismo may copy ng gangnam style or call me maybe sa media players nila. hehe,

  2. Honestly, that law, in a good way will help most of our developers, producers, artists, authors, and anyone who deserves their credit and Profit for working hard developing such magnificent creations.

    It will help our economy grow as TAXES (which are received from those rather than free/pirated copies who doesn't pay) are PAID to the GOVERNMENT from those industries, making them more profitable and worth competing to be the best and earn more. I mean it's business right? but people also deserves the best for what they pay.

    But how will our economy grow? if the taxes we pay doesn't really go back to us instead those good for nothing people who manage our "KABAN ng BAYAN" spend the hard-earned money for their selfish reasons, POST their FACES thanking THIS and THAT, MANIPULATE the PROJECTS, and USE the FUNDS to FUND themselves, while people are starving, dying, and hurting from all what could have been helped using those Funds.

    So tell me, How will those Laws Help Us? If the Taxes Collected just make SOME OTHER Bank Accounts' Longer while our Stomachs Grumble Noisier..

  3. The only reason why people buy pirated DVD's and CD's and download files on the net is because the so- called originals or legal ones are overpriced. Traditional production of music and movies does not cater to the current market. Why buy originals when you can buy it for 3 for 100 pesos? Or better, download it for free
    ? The point is make them affordable so that customers will start buying originals. C'mon China did it. People buy made in china because it's ridiculously cheap. Why can't we?

    • That's why I support DLCs for my games, and once I get my PayPal working properly, subscribe to Steam.

      The stuff they sell is a lot cheaper than the same games found in brick-and-mortar stores, since you don't have to pay for the fancy packaging.

    • Sup-
      I was having the same thoughts as you having originals to be as cheap as the dupes. I dont really care about the quality of the disc i just wanted it dirty cheap and like use it once. But having matured a little helped me understand that publishers/developers didn't have much of a choice for making a movie/game/album to be the cheapest that it can get. If you would compare a game made for the mobile priced at .99$ and a game made for the PC/Xbox360/PS3 for 80$ you would see a big leap right 😀

      what im saying is that when buying a movie/software/stuff be sure that it's worth it, that you really wanted it, Learn to support that developers the publishers or the authors if you really like it., although there are times that the products would disappoint you still its a great practice to support those who are behind it. they've worked hard for it.

      china, they also had expensive stuff, they just deliver what you've paid for im sure the things that you call "ridiculously cheap" were also not that as good as they're "branded" counter parts.

    • not just that. ironically, anti-piracy measures tend to punish only people that buy original.

      if you buy an original DVD, you'll only be able to use it in the region it was programmed for. pirated DVDs don't have regioning.

      some original movie DVDs start off with anti-piracy warnings and movie previews that you can't skip. pirated DVDs land you immediately in the menu.

      many PC games now require an internet connection in order to even run the game, whether or not it has any online components at all. if you can't connect to the internet or if their servers are down, you can't play. pirated games bypass this, albeit at the cost of updates and support.

      what's the point of implementing anti-piracy when the only people that get affected are the ones that buy original?

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