Republic Act No. 10372, signed on February 28, 2013, amends certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. The following are some frequently asked questions about these amendments, and some short answers.

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Am I still allowed to import books, DVDs, and CDs from abroad?

Yes. In fact, the amendments to the Intellectual Property Code have removed the original limitation of three copies when bringing legitimately acquired copies of copyrighted material into the country. Only the importation of pirated or infringed material is illegal. As long as they were legally purchased, you can bring as many copies you want, subject to Customs regulations.

Is the reproduction of copyrighted material for personal purposes punishable by this law?

No. Infringement in this context refers to the economic rights of the copyright owner. So, if you transfer music from a lawfully acquired CD into a computer, then download it to a portable device for personal use, then you didn’t commit infringement. But if, for example, you make multiple copies of the CD to sell, then infringement occurs.

Is the possession of, for example, a music file procured through an infringing activity a violation of this law?

Only if it can be proven that the person benefitting from the music file has knowledge of the infringement, and the power and ability to control the person committing the infringement.

Is jailbreaking or rooting{{*}} my phone or device illegal?

No. Jailbreaking or rooting by themselves are not illegal. However, downloading pirated material, or committing infringement with a “jailbroken” phone increases the penalty and damages imposed on the person found guilty of infringement.

Are mall owners liable for infringement activities of their tenants?

Mall owners are not automatically penalized for the infringing acts of their tenants. When a mall owner or lessor finds out about an infringement activity, he or she must give notice to the tenant, then he or she will be afforded time to act upon this knowledge. As stated above, the law requires that one must have both proven knowledge of the infringement, and the ability to control the activities of the infringing person, to be held liable. The mall owner must also have benefitted from the infringement.

Is it legal for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to visit businesses to conduct searches based on reports, information, and complaints?

The IPO may visit establishments based on reports and complaints; this in itself is constitutional. However, if the IPO intends to perform a search and seizure, it must comply with constitutional requirements, such as having a search warrant. A warrant wouldn’t be required, however, if the IPO is accompanied by the Bureau of Customs or the Optical Media Board—two agencies that can perform a search and seizure on their own right without a warrant (per Republic Act No. 1937 and 9239, respectively).

The procedure and safeguards for this are to be spelled out in the Implementing Rules and Regulations.

[[*]] Jailbreaking (for iOS) and rooting (for Android) are examples of decompilation, the process of removing the vendor-imposed limitations of tablets, mobile devices and other electronic gadgets. Though not illegal, decompilation may be in violation of your operating system’s terms of use, and therefore may void your warranty.[[*]]

 
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