What is copyright?

Copyright refers to the collection of all rights enjoyed by the owner of an artistic or literary work.

What are considered copyrightable works in the Philippines?

Under Philippine law, original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain are copyrightable. These include books, pamphlets, articles and other writings; periodicals and newspapers; lectures, sermons, addresses, dissertations prepared for oral delivery; letters; dramatic or dramatico-musical compositions; choreographic works or entertainment in dumb shows; musical compositions; drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography; models or designs for works of art; original ornamental designs or models for articles of manufacture; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches, charts and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science; drawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical character; photographic works including works produced by a process analogous to photography; lantern slides; audiovisual works and cinematographic works and works produced by a process analogous to cinematography or any process for making audio-visual recordings; pictorial illustrations and advertisements and computer programs.

Derivative works are also protected as new works, provided that it does not affect the existing copyright on original works. Derivative works may include: dramatizations, translations, adaptations, abridgements, arrangements, and other alterations of literary music work; collections of literary, scholarly or artistic works, and compilations of data and other materials which are original by reason of the selection or coordination or arrangement of their contents.

What works are not protected by copyright under Philippine law?

Copyright protection does not cover:

  1. Ideas, procedures, systems, methods, or operations, concepts, principles, discoveries or mere data as such, even if they are expressed, explained, illustrated or embodied in a work;
  2. News of the day and other miscellaneous facts having the character of mere items of press information;
  3. Official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, as well as any official translation thereof;
  4. Work of the Philippine Government, unless there was a prior approval by the appropriate government agency; and
  5. Statutes, rules and regulations, and speeches, lectures, sermons, addresses, and dissertations, pronounced, read or rendered in courts of justice, before administrative agencies, in deliberative assemblies and in meetings of public character.

Is copyright deposit necessary to protect artistic or literary works?

No, copyrightable works are protected from the moment of their creation.

Who can file a copyright deposit? 

The owner of the work or his/her assignees or successors-in-interest has the right to file a copyright deposit.

Who are considered owners of the copyrightable works?

The owners of original literary and artistic works are:

  1. The author of the work;
  2. If the work is of joint ownership:
    1. The co-authors are the original owners and in the absence of agreement, their rights shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
    2. The author of each part is the owner of such part he/she created, if the work consists of parts that can be used separately and the author of each part can be identified.
  3. If the work is created in the course of employment:
    1. Employee is the owner, if the work created is not part of employee’s regular duties even if he uses the time, facilities and materials of the employer;
    2. Employer is the owner, if the work created is the result of the performance of employee’s regularly-assigned duties, unless otherwise agreed upon.
  4. If the work was commissioned, the one who commissioned the work jointly owns it with the author/creator – but the copyright of the work remains with author/creator, unless otherwise agreed upon;
  5. In the case of audio-visual work, the copyright belongs to the producer, the author of the scenario, the music composer, the film director, and the author of the work adapted. However, unless otherwise agreed upon among the creators, the producer has the right to exercise copyright to the extent required for the exhibition of the work in any manner, except for the right to collect license fees for the performance of musical compositions, with or without words, which are incorporated into the work.
  6. With respect to letters, the copyright belongs to the writer subject to the following:
    1. Letters and other private communications in writing are owned by the person to whom they are addressed and delivered, but the same cannot be published or disseminated without the consent of the writer or his heirs.
    2. However, the court may authorize the publication or dissemination if the public goods or the interest of justice so requires.

Can the author or creator waive or transfer copyright?

Yes, the author/creator of any work can waive or transfer copyright on his/her work in favor of a corporation or another individual.

What is the duration of copyright protection?

In the Philippines, copyright protection for artistic, literary and derivative works lasts during the lifetime of the author plus 50 years after the author’s death. This term of protection also applies to posthumous works. In the case of joint authorship, the economic rights shall be protected during the lifetime of the last surviving author plus 50 years after such author’s death. Such term shall always be deemed to begin on the first day of January of the year following the death of the author.

What is the duration or term of protection for works with anonymous owner/creator?

In case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, copyright protection shall last for 50 years from the date on which the work was first lawfully published. If the work was not published, it shall be protected for 50 years counted from the creation of the work.

What is the duration or term protection for works of applied art?

Works of applied art shall be protected for 25 years from the date of its creation.

What is the duration or term of protection for audio-visual works?

Audio-visual works shall be protected for 50 years from the date of publication. If it is unpublished, it is protected for 50 years from the date of creation.

What is the duration or term of protection for performers and producers of sound recordings?

Performances not incorporated in recordings shall be protected for 50 years from the end of the year in which the performance took place. Sound or image and sound recordings and performances incorporated therein shall be protected for 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording took place.

What is the duration or term of protection for broadcasts?

Broadcasts shall be protected for 20 years from the date the broadcast took place.

What are the rights conferred to the author of a work?

The author of a work has  economic rights, as well as moral rights over the work.

The author has the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the:

  1. Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work;
  2. Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;
  3. The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;
  4. Rental of the original or a copy of an audio-visual 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;
  5. Public display of the original or a copy of the work;
  6. Public performance of the work; and
  7. Other communication to the public of the work.

Moral rights confer the following on the author of a work:

  1. To require that the authorship of the works be attributed to him, in particular; the right that his name, as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work;
  2. To make any alterations of his work prior to, or to withhold it from publication;
  3. To object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, his work which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation; and
  4. To restrain the use of his name with respect to any work not of his own creation or in a distorted version of his work.

Can a copyright be transferred or assigned?

Yes. Copyright can be transferred or assigned in whole or in part.

Is the sale of an original work, for example a painting, equivalent to the transfer of the copyright therein?

No. The copyright is distinct from the object or property subject to it. Consequently, the transfer or assignment of the copyright does not necessarily constitute a transfer of the object. Nor shall a transfer or assignment of the copy or several copies of the work imply a transfer or assignment of the copyright.

What is the extent of authority granted to the publisher of newspapers, periodicals or magazines when a work is submitted for publication?

The authority constitutes only a license to make a single publication unless expressly stated otherwise. If the copyright is owned by more than 1 person, neither of the owners shall be entitled to grant a license without the prior written consent of the other owner or owners.

What is the extent of copyright protection in works of architecture?

Copyright in a work of architecture includes the right to control the erection of any building, which reproduces the whole or substantial part of the work either in its original form or in any form recognizably derived from the original. It shall not include the right to control the reconstruction or rehabilitation in the same style as the original of the building to which the copyright relates.

Can a computer program be reproduced without violating the author’s copyright?

Yes, in cases of fair use. Decompilation, which is the reproduction of the code and translation of the forms of the computer program to achieve the inter-operability of an independently created computer program with other programs constitutes fair use and is allowed.

Reproduction in one (1) back-up copy or adaptation of a computer program or adaptation of a computer program is permitted, without the authorization of the author or owner of the copyright, provided that the copy or adaptation is necessary for:

(a) the use of the computer program in conjunction with a computer for the purpose, and to the extent, for which the computer program has been obtained; and

(b) archival purposes and for the replacement of the lawfully owned copy of the computer program in the event that the lawfully obtained copy of the computer program is lost, destroyed or rendered unusable.


Other than the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, is there any special law that ensures the protection to copyright owners of audio-visual works?

Yes, the Optical Media Act of 2003 ensures the protection of copyright owners over audio-visual works. This Act regulates the manufacture, mastering, replication, importation and exportation of optical media in which information, including sounds and/or images, or software code, has been stored, either by mastering and/or replication.

Under the Optical Media Act, any person, establishment or entity shall, prior to engaging in one or more of the following business or activities, register with and secure the appropriate licenses from the Optical Media Board (OMB):

  1. Importation, exportation, acquisition, sale or distribution of optical media, manufacturing equipment, parts and accessories and manufacturing materials used or intended for use in the mastering, manufacture or replication of optical media;
  2. Possession or operation of manufacturing equipment, parts and accessories, or the possession acquisition, sale or use of manufacturing materials for the mastering, manufacture or replication of optical media; and
  3. The mastering, manufacture, replication, importation or exportation of optical media.

The Optical Media Act also requires that Source Identification (SID) Codes, prescribed by the OMB to, be applied to each and every optical media mastered, manufactured or replicated including glass masters, stampers or other parts used for the manufacture of optical discs.

What is fair use?

The fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news, reporting, teaching including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship, research and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright.

Decompilation, which is the reproduction of the code and translation of the forms of the computer programs to achieve the inter-operability of an independently created computer program with other programs, may also constitute fair use.

To determine whether use of a work constitutes fair use, the following factors are considered:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Copyright rules provide for certain instances where there is no need of application of the fair use principle above to be considered fair use:

  1. 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;
  2. The reproduction or communication to the public by mass media of articles on current political, social, economic, scientific, or religious topics, lectures, addresses, and other works of the same nature, which are delivered in public if such use is for information purposes and has not been expressly reserved, provided the source is clearly indicated;
  3. The reproduction and communication to the public of literary, scientific, or artistic works as part of reports of current events by means of photography, cinematography or broadcasting to the extent necessary for the purpose;
  4. The recording made in schools, universities, or educational institutions of a work included in a broadcast for the use of such schools, universities, or educational institutions, provided that such recording must be deleted within a reasonable period after they were first broadcast, and provided that such recording may not be made from audiovisual works which are part of the general cinema repertoire of feature films, except for brief excerpts of the work;
  5. The making of ephemeral recordings by a broadcasting organization by means of its own facilities and for use in its own broadcast;
  6. The public performance or the communication to the public of a work, in a place where no admission fee is charged in respect of such public performance or communication, by a club or institution for charitable or education purpose only, whose aim is not profit making;
  7. The public display of the original or a copy of the work not made by means of a film, slide, television image or otherwise on screen or by means of any other device or process, provided that either the work has been published or that the original or the copy displayed has been sold, given away, or otherwise transferred to another person by the author or his successor in title;
  8. Any use made of a work for the purpose of any judicial proceedings or for the giving of professional advice by a legal practitioner; or
  9. The reproduction or distribution of published articles or materials in a specialized format exclusively for the use of the blind, visually, and reading impaired persons, provided that such copies and distribution shall be made on a non-profit basis and shall indicate the copyright owner and the date of the original publication.

What constitutes copyright infringement in the Philippines?

Under Philippine law, copyright infringement occurs when there is a violation of any of the exclusive economic or moral rights granted to the copyright owner. It may also consist in aiding or abetting such infringement. The IP Code also provides for the liability of a person who at the time when copyright subsists in a work has in his possession an article which he knows, or ought to know, to be an infringing copy of the work for the following purposes: (a) selling or letting for hire, or by way of trade offering or exposing for sale or hire, the article; (b) distributing the article for the purpose of trade, or for any other purpose to an extent that will prejudice the rights of the copyright owner in the work; or (c) trade exhibit of the article in public.

What are the remedies available to an owner of a copyright against an infringer?

The copyright owner can file a criminal, civil or administrative action for copyright infringement. A criminal case for copyright infringement must be filed in the court situated in the place where the violation occurred. The administrative suit is filed at the Bureau of Legal Affairs at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines. A civil infringement lawsuit is filed in the appropriate court located at the place where the defendant resides/is located, or where the plaintiff resides/is located, at the option of the plaintiff.

What are the penalties provided by Philippine law for copyright infringement?

Under Philippine law, copyright infringement is punishable by the following:

  1. Imprisonment of between 1 to 3 years and a fine of between 50,000 to 150,000 pesos for the first offense.
  2. Imprisonment of 3 years and 1 day to six years plus a fine of between 150,000 to 500,000 pesos for the second offense.
  3. Imprisonment of 6 years and 1 day to 9 years plus a fine ranging from 500,000 to 1,500,000 pesos for the third and subsequent offenses.

The offending party may also be ordered to pay civil damages. Injunction and destruction of the infringing goods or products can also be obtained, as well as seizure and impounding of any article which may serve as evidence in the court proceedings.

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