OMB chief admits they can’t address ‘online piracy’ due to loophole in law
MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Optical Media Board (OMB) has admitted that they cannot act on the proliferation of pirated movies in social media sites and penalize people who watch or share these links due to loopholes in the agency’s mandate.
According to OMB chief and lawyer Anselmo Adriano, they are unable to go after people sharing links or watching movies through online platforms because their organization deals with piracy using physical storage devices.
“Our regulation, to be very clear, is storage-based. So it has to be a physical storage device involved, so that would be a CD, or DVD, or flash drives, even cloud (storages) for that matter, as long as you have a server located here in the Philippines, or Betamax, VHS or cassette tapes,” Adriano said on Monday.
“There has to be a physical storage device, anything on the internet, technically speaking — so if you share links, it is not part of our mandate. So if someone uploaded it on Facebook, and it appears OMB is not doing anything, it’s because it is on the internet,” he added.
Under Section 19 of Republic Act No. 9239 or the Optical Media Act of 2003 which also created the OMB, only those who are involved in the illegal importation, exportation, sale or distribution of optical media — or handheld devices — may be penalized.
But with the advent of high internet penetration and speeds, there have been several reports of piracy of famous local and international movies, uploaded either on Facebook or other illegal streaming websites.
In 2016, romantic-comedy director Antonette Jadaone and other movie workers cried foul over the spread of pirated versions of their movies on the social media site.
Then just this August, OMB sought the help of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) after copies of the high-grossing movie “Hello, Love, Goodbye” were uploaded on Facebook.
“It is not part of our jurisdiction unless this is downloaded to a physical device, and you engage yourself in a commercial transaction,” Adriano said.
Adriano said that they have backed legislation that would revise their charter, but it was not tackled before the 17th Congress closed its session. He said they intend to talk with lawmakers who can refile the bill.
Still, Adriano insisted that they would continue to work against piracy, like going after cable televisions showing pirated movies.
“We were able to apprehend three cable companies over the last couple of months that were showing pirated content on their cable channels using USBs. That’s where we came in, because technically speaking when you see it in cable, it’s not our mandate,” he said.
“That’s true, but if you use a storage device, that’s the time we would move,” he added.
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