Special report on piracy part 2

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

September 20, 2013

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Like many musicians, Florante Aguilar sells his songs online through iTunes and Amazon. He’s aware of how piracy can threaten his livelihood. A recent study by NetNames says that over 300 million people infringed copyright work at least once in their life.

“As an artist, I think it’s only right that our work gets compensated because we provide actual service,” he said.

But he has a confession to make about piracy. He shared, “Of course, I’m against it now that I’m a professional musician. But when I started out, I did copy a lot, back in the time of Napster. And that was only because there was no other way for people to download music. But now, there are many channels for legitimate downloads.”

Instead of punishing people who download pirated materials for personal use, Aguilar said the government should focus on those who actually make money doing it.

“Those who distribute it in a massive way, who earn money from it — those should be punished,” he said.

This Filipino graphic artist, who we will call “James”, has downloaded thousands of songs and movies for free through sites like Napster, Morpheus, Limewire, Kazaa, Kazaapro, Bittorrent, Torrentreactor and Torrenz through the years.

“The only thing that can kills sites is when you have to pay. People don’t like to pay for anything,” he said.

He said he commits piracy, mostly because he thinks not everything on sale is worth the price. “If you’re doing a really good job and you’re really conveying an Oscar-award winning performance, then I’ll you money. But not all actors do that — are only basically worth a download, not worth ten bucks,” he pointed out.

He said some of his friends, also active downloaders, have received cease and desist letters from internet providers, telling them to stop illegal downloading activity. But he said he’s never been caught committing piracy.

“I usually have a good idea of when to stop, how much to download, so it doesn’t draw too much attention. I’m not going to download 1,000 songs, 200 movies a night. I’ll do it occasionally. I use it in moderation. I download in moderation,” he said.

This year, a new anti-piracy program called Copyright Alert System was launched, for users of internet providers like AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon.

When piracy is being committed, the internet service providers or ISP warns subscribers that their internet speed will slow down, if they don’t stop.

Creative America said that over 500,000 movies are illegally distributed each day, worldwide and that websites offering stolen content generate about 146 million visits per day.

Last year, ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel partnered with the Optical Media Board for an awareness campaign on anti-piracy, producing the public-service announcement called “Bawal Kumopya”, which means “Piracy is Prohibited”.

Raffy Lopez, Chief Operating Office of ABS-CBN Global said it’s important that everyone gets educated on how piracy has severely impacted honest and hardworking people in the entertainment industry.

“If piracy does not come under control, it can actually threaten to completely change the industry, potentially even destroying the industry, said Lopez.

Philippine officials are serious in containing piracy. Last year, they raided an internet shop in La Union, owned by Ogie Villamil, for alleged illegal copying, recording and uploading for public viewing, mostly shows from ABS-CBN.

A few months ago ,the Philippine Department of Justice issued a resolution, which found probable cause for copyright infringement against Villamil and recommended the filing of appropriate criminal charges against him.

It was very important for us to get that first case and to bring it to court, not just to stop him but to send a message to all people — that this is not right,” Lopez concluded.

For more information, you may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com.

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