Late 2018, authorities in the Philippines announced a new bill that, if passed, will attempt to tackle the ongoing piracy problem in the region.
In common with many other countries around the world, the Philippines is considering the introduction of site-blocking measures which would compel local Internet service providers to prevent access to named ‘pirate’ sites.
In most jurisdictions, where site-blocking is already underway, ISPs are compelled by court order/injunction to block sites following a legal process. However, the Philippines has a more aggressive mechanism in mind.
The bill, introduced by Senator Vicente “Tito” Castelo Sotto III , would “empower” the country’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to force local ISPs to take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement.”
However, should they not comply, they could be put out of business.
“If the recommendation of the IPO to cancel the license of the ISP is proper and meritorious, the Commission shall facilitate the prompt cancellation of the license of the ISP,” the bill reads.
While this kind of threat wouldn’t normally be welcomed by providers, Globe Telecom, one of the Philippines’ largest operators of mobile, fixed line, and broadband Internet, is giving the bill its full backing.
“The economic and social impact of online piracy is profound,” Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu said in a statement.
“Revenue loss are in millions and thousands of jobs are affected due to a myriad of illegal streaming websites and illicit streaming devices or ISDs [llicit Streaming Devices].
“More importantly, these illegal sites and devices put customers at risk not only because of its content but specifically, malware. Globe will continue to support efforts that will help stop online piracy,” he added.
While ISPs coming out against piracy is a growing trend (take Canada, for example), baking harsh punishments against them into law is new. However, since Cu recently joined the Board of Directors of the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), which is a hub for anti-piracy enforcement, the move shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Neil Gane, General Manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy, is also a supporter of the proposed legislation, which centers on the blocking of pirate sites through an administrative process and tackling the growing problem of piracy-configured set-top devices.
“There is no silver bullet to deterring online piracy,” Gane said in a statement.
“What is required is a holistic solution to include consumer outreach, cooperation with technology platforms and other intermediaries, enforcement, and critically, capability to disable access to egregious piracy websites through effective site blocking.
“AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy welcomes the Philippine Online Infringement Bill, which, if passed, will provide an important building block for the Philippine content industry to tackle online piracy,” he added.
Back in 2013, the Philippines found itself at the center of a high-profile copyright dispute when it ordered the seizure of a .ph registered domain belonging to the now-defunct torrent giant KickassTorrents.
In response, however, the site simply changed to another domain, a tactic that is clearly still remembered by the architects of this new site-blocking bill.