Authors, artists stand up for copyright protection
MANILA, Philippines – As Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" blared on the speakers, prominent personalities in literature and the arts committed on Thursday, April 23, to promote books, and the protection of copyright of all creative works.
Eight "book champions and intellectual property ambassadors" were introduced at the "AK/DA" or "Araw ng Karapatan sa Akda/Day of the Author", in celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, by the National Book and Development Board (NBDB) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines.
Present in Thursday's commitment signing ceremony at SM Aura Premier were National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, authors RJ Ledesma and Beverly "Bebang Siy," and stage actor Luisito "Kuya Bodjie" Pascua. Author Bob Ong was represented by Nida Ramirez of publishing house Visprint Inc.
The remaining 3 were musician Noel Cabangon, furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, and librarian Von Totanes.
"They were selected on the basis of their background, their association with the creative industries, and their previous efforts to promote and champion books and copyright," said Graciela Mendoza-Cayton, executive director of the NBDB.
She also stressed the significance of respecting the copyright attached to books, creative works, and inventions.
"What's more important is that the authors are aware of their rights over their works. It's very important also that the public is aware of basic copyright laws and the basic rights of authors when they engage through reading, through criticism, and through other forms," said Mendoza-Cayton.
Respect for ownership, copyright
For their part, the champions and ambassadors echoed the call to respect the ownership and copyright of all creative outputs.
"I believe in the importance of the works of an artist, and I believe that it’s important to recognize the rights of an artist over his works. It should also be promoted more thoroughly," said Pascua.
Ledesma, who wrote Lies My Yaya Should Have Told Me and Playing With Pink Parts, noted the hard work and effort authors put into writing their books.
“You know what inspires an author is that he puts a lot of his own self-worth, his creative input and endeavor into a book. And it’s nice that it is recognized to be yours so that it continues to inspire you to write more, and it inspires other people to write more as well," said Ledesma.
"Because of course, many people make their living from writing, or gain their idea of self-esteem and self-worth from their writing, so it’s very important that we maintain and uphold copyright here in the Philippines."
Representing the music industry, Cabangon said in a video message that the recognition of intellectual property rights of composers and singers encourages the creation of more music.
"Music plays a very important role in our lives. While we value music, we have to bear in mind that there are music creators who made this music, who made these songs. We have to value their creation," Cabangon said.
Meanwhile, Siy pointed out the two sides of copyright and its protection over the Internet and social media.
"First, it helps especially in the information campaign, because we know that today’s generation is very Internet-savvy. The Internet can be used to promote information about copyright protection, and about respecting books and their authors."
She also said the Internet can also assist in finding out who is copying the works of others.
But at the same time, said Siy, the Internet could be an avenue for copyright infringement. "Sometimes, it aids in violating the copyright or the rights of the author. Through e-mail, for instance, the whole book is scanned to make an e-book, then sent via e-mail to others. So piracy takes place faster through technology."
Siy is the author of It's a Mens World and It's Raining Mens.
Lawyer Allan Gepty, OIC director-general of IPO Philippines, also shared this sentiment.
"The availability of the Internet is both a challenge and a risk. It depends on how you handle it," Gepty said. He noted that it could be used by authors to sell their books, but at the same time, used by pirates to copy and upload illegal copies of books, sometimes for profit at the expense of the original authors.
"When it comes to enforcement, we have to focus on running after the infringers and violators," said Gepty. "But the most important aspect of it is the education part. You have to educate the public, particularly the students, as to the importance of intellectual property rights such as copyright."
"If they fully understand the value of copyright, then of course they will respect the same, and they will not patronize illegal copies," he stressed.
Write, create, innovate
NDBD executive director Mendoza-Cayton said that despite having only a few thousand recognized Filipino authors on their roster and only around 8,000 new Filipino books generated last year, the influx of young authors and writers online – most notably on the Wattpad website – is a positive development.
"So makikita mo na maraming creators, maraming nae-engganyong pumasok sa larangan ng paglilikha, ng pagsusulat. Kailangan natin silang, unang-una, makilala, pagkatapos gabayan para maisama natin sila sa community of writers of the Philippines," she said.
(From here, you would see that there are many creators, many who are excited to be part of the creative industry, or of literature. We just need to, first, get to know them, then guide them so that we could include them in the community of writers in the Philippines.)
Meanwhile, Isagani Cruz, governor of the NBDB, called on Filipinos to innovate more.
"On this day, we’re showing to all Filipinos with ambitions of becoming an innovator, writer or actor, and doing all other kinds of creative activity that we are ready to protect their rights over their works and creations," said Cruz.
He added, "If we have many innovators in our country, I’m sure we could surpass other countries in ASEAN, in Asia, and even the whole world."
The AK/DA event also featured the signing of a memorandum of understanding by members of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights for a campaign against book piracy.
In the afternoon, children enjoyed a storytelling session with "Kuya Bodjie" Pascua, and an arts and crafts workshop by members of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).
There was also a book-signing session, featuring renowned authors such as Manix Abrera, Edgar Samar, Genaro Gojo Cruz, Nikki Alfar, and Jose Miguel Arguelles.
The World Book and Copyright Day, first celebrated in 1995, takes place every April 23 "to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors."
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also encourages everyone – young people, in particular – on that date "to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity."
In the Philippines, the month of April is National Literature Month or Buwan ng Panitikan, by virtue of Proclamation No. 968 signed by President Benigno Aquino III in early 2015. – Rappler.com