Intellectual Property: Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement was previously governed by Presidential Decree No. 49. At present, all laws dealing with the protection of intellectual property rights have been consolidated under Republic Act No. 8293. Notwithstanding the change in the law, the same principles are reiterated in the new law under Section 177. It provides for the copy or economic rights of an owner of a copyright as follows:

Sec.177. Copy or Economic rights. – Subject to the provisions of chapter VIII, copyright or economic rights shall consist of the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the following acts:

177.1 Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work;

177.2 Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgement, arrangement or other transformation of the work;

177.3 The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;

177.4 Rental of the original or a copy of an audiovisual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or a musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental; (n)

177.5 Public display of the original or copy of the work;

177.6 Public performance of the work; and

177.7 Other communication to the public of the work

The law also provided for the limitations on copyright, thus:

Sec. 184.1 Limitations on copyright. – Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter V, the following acts shall not constitute infringement of copyright:

(a) the recitation or performance of a work, once it has been lawfully made accessible to the public, if done privately and free of charge or if made strictly for a charitable or religious institution or society; [Sec. 10(1), P.D. No. 49]

(b) The making of quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified for the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries; Provided, that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work are mentioned; (Sec. 11 third par. P.D.49)

x x x x x x x x x x x x

(e) The inclusion of a work in a publication, broadcast, or other communication to the public, sound recording of film, if such inclusion is made by way of illustration for teaching purposes and is compatible with fair use: Provided, That the source and the name of the author, if appearing in the work is mentioned;

In the above quoted provisions, “work” has reference to literary and artistic creations and this includes books and other literary, scholarly and scientific works.

In a 1999 case, the authors and copyright owners of COLLEGE ENGLISH FOR TODAY (“CET”), Books 1 and 2, and WORKBOOK FOR COLLEGE FRESHMAN ENGLISH, Series 1, sued the author/publisher and distributor/seller of another published work entitled “DEVELOPING ENGLISH PROFICIENCY” (“DEP”), Books 1 and 2 (1985 edition). When the case reached the Supreme Court, the Court found that several pages of the book DEP are similar, if not identical, with the text of CET.

In determining the question of infringement, the amount of matter copied from the copyrighted work is an important consideration. To constitute infringement, it is not necessary that the whole or even a large portion of the work shall have been copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original is sensibly diminished, or the labors of the original author are substantially and to an injurious extent appropriated by another, that is sufficient in point of law to constitute piracy.The essence of intellectual piracy should be essayed in conceptual terms in order to underscore its gravity by an appropriate understanding thereof. Infringement of a copyright is a trespass on a private domain owned and occupied by the owner of the copyright, and, therefore, protected by law, and infringement of copyright, or piracy, which is a synonymous term in this connection, consists in the doing by any person, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, of anything the sole right to do which is conferred by statute on the owner of the copyright.

When is there a substantial reproduction of a book? It does not necessarily require that the entire copyrighted work, or even a large portion of it, be copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original work is substantially diminished, there is an infringement of copyright and to an injurious extent, the work is appropriated.

The next question to resolve is to what extent can copying be injurious to the author of the book being copied. Is it enough that there are similarities in some sections of the books or large segments of the books are the same?

In that case, several pages of the books CET and DEP have more or less the same contents. It may be correct that the books being grammar books may contain materials similar as to some technical contents with other grammar books, such as the segment about the “Author Card”. However, the numerous pages presented showing similarity in the style and the manner the books were presented and the identical examples can’t pass as similarities merely because of technical consideration.

In cases of infringement, copying alone is not what is prohibited. The copying must produce an “injurious effect”. Here, the injury consists in that respondent lifted from petitioners’ book materials that were the result of the latter’s research work and compilation and misrepresented them as her own. She circulated the book DEP for commercial use and did not acknowledge petitioners as her source.

Petitioners’ work as authors is the product of their long and assiduous research and for another to represent it as her own is injury enough. In copyrighting books the purpose is to give protection to the intellectual product of an author. This is precisely what the law on copyright protected, under Section 184.1 (b). Quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified by the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries are allowed provided that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned.

Source: Habana vs. Robles (1999)

5 thoughts on “Intellectual Property: Copyright Infringement

  1. Amadeo

    Plagiarism and Copyright violations are two distinct behavior.


    “Often, plagiarism and copyright violations go hand in hand. But it’s possible to break copyright without plagiarizing. And it’s possible to commit plagiarism with out breaking copyright.”

    Did a little study on this and collated findings:

    What do you think?

  2. Pingback: Plagiarism and Intellectual Piracy at Atty-at-Work

  3. Pingback: Filipino Shirt printers - Page 110 - T-Shirt Forums

  4. Pingback: MATALINO KA? IKAW NA! | skriprayter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *