Given impending ASEAN integration to come into force by the end of 2015, the country should take advantage of this upcoming opportunity by establishing strong copyright management.

In a 2006 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) study on copyright industries, it showed that Philippine copyright-based industries contribute 4.92% to the GDP and 11.1% to national employment of the country.

And these copyright industries that serve as one of the major tools for economic development include the press and literature, music, theater and opera, motion picture and video, radio and television, photography, software and databases, visual and graphic arts, and advertising.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), a government agency mandated to implement State policies on intellectual property under R.A. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code, continue to do lots of efforts to strengthen the copyright protection and awareness campaigns in the country.

In the recently held “Copy & Repro”, the first international conference on intellectual property policies and copyright licensing for schools and universities at the 35th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), IPOPHL Director General Ricardo Blancaflor gave his keynote address highlighting the efforts of IPOPHL and the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) of making the Philippines removed from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) Watch List this year after having been on the list for the past 20 years.

“The Philippines, which was first placed on the Watch List in 1989 and considered to be having the potential of becoming a center of pirate optical media production in Asia in 2001, is removed from the Watch List in 2014 based on sustained actions that the Philippine government has undertaken to improve intellectual property rights protection,” Blancaflor said.

To sustain this such unilaterally granted trade preferences, USTR must be continuously to be satisfied that the Philippines meets certain discretionary criteria, including whether it provides adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.

This international conference was co-organized by the IPOPHL, together with the National Book Development Board (NBDB), Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO). International and local experts were able to discuss the implications of Republic Act 10372 on book piracy and the mandatory crafting of intellectual property (IP) policies for schools and universities. (END)