It’s official — the amendments to the Intellectual Property Code will soon come into effect. On 28 February 2013, President Benigno Aquino III signed into law Republic Act No. 10372 [full text], which is an Act Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines”, and for Other Purposes. It will come into full force 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.
Let’s start with the more controversial amendment: the removal of the sections on importation for personal use. For comparison, the old text under R.A. 8293 is reproduced in full, as follows:
Section 190. Importation for Personal Purposes. – 190.1. Notwithstanding the provision of Subsection 177.6, but subject to the limitation under the Subsection 185.2, the importation of a copy of a work by an individual for his personal purposes shall be permitted without the authorization of the author of, or other owner of copyright in, the work under the following circumstances:
(a) When copies of the work are not available in the Philippines and:
(i) Not more than one (1) copy at one time is imported for strictly individual use only; or
(ii) The importation is by authority of and for the use of the Philippine Government; or
(iii) The importation, consisting of not more than three (3) such copies or likenesses in any one invoice, is not for sale but for the use only of any religious, charitable, or educational society or institution duly incorporated or registered, or is for the encouragement of the fine arts, or for any state school, college, university, or free public library in the Philippines.
(b) When such copies form parts of libraries and personal baggage belonging to persons or families arriving from foreign countries and are not intended for sale: Provided, That such copies do not exceed three (3).
190.2. Copies imported as allowed by this Section may not lawfully be used in any way to violate the rights of owner the copyright or annul or limit the protection secured by this Act, and such unlawful use shall be deemed an infringement and shall be punishable as such without prejudice to the proprietor’s right of action.
190.3. Subject to the approval of the Secretary of Finance, the Commissioner of Customs is hereby empowered to make rules and regulations for preventing the importation of articles the importation of which is prohibited under this Section and under treaties and conventions to which the Philippines may be a party and for seizing and condemning and disposing of the same in case they are discovered after they have been imported.
The new law, Republic Act No. 10372, deleted the entire Section 190.1 and 190.2. This deletion is interpreted by some quarters as a clear intent to disallow such acts. In other words, they argue, Filipinos and foreigners alike cannot bring to the Philippines a copyrighted work, even if it is for personal use.
On the other hand, Section 190.3 was retained, expanded to cover exportation as well, and renumbered simply as Section 190, with the following text (underscored portions are the amendments):
Section 190. Importation and Exportation of Infringing Materials. – Subject to the approval of the Secretary of Finance, the Commissioner of Customs is hereby empowered to make rules and regulations for preventing the importation or exportation of infringing articles prohibited under
this Section Part IV of this Act and under relevant treaties and conventions to which the Philippines may be a party and for seizing and condemning and disposing of the same in case they are discovered after they have been imported or before they are exported.
It would be interesting to see how the deletion of old Sections 190.1 and 190.2 will be interpreted in the Implementing Rules and Regulations. [Full text of RA 10372]