Bawal na ba ang pasalubong from your Tita in San Francisco?

There is some hoopla happening right now about that law saying balikbayans can't bring in movies, TV shows and coloring books anymore when they return to the Philippines.

That "law" would be House Bill No. 3841, 15th Congress, making some amendments to current Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

So, bawal na ba talaga to bring home your pabilin of the boxed set of Lord of the Rings from your Tita in San Francisco?

To put it plainly: No, it's not bawal. What is bawal now is how many your tita can bring home, and in fact this law says your tita or any balikbayan relatives can bring in more than they did before according to the change in law.

Yes, more.

Related story: Intellectual Property Code changes approved

Don’t be scared, because I will now be posting some legal stuff in the next few paragraphs to illustrate this. Scroll down a bit if you want to skip it.

The now-to-be-deleted provision reads like this:

SEC. 190. Importation for Personal Purposes
190.1. Notwithstanding the provision of Subsection 177.6, but subject to the limitation under the Subsection 185.2, the importation of a copy of a work by an individual for his personal purposes shall be permitted without the authorization of the author of, or other owner of copyright in, the work under the following circumstances:
b) When such copies form parts of libraries and personal baggage belonging to persons or families arriving from foreign countries and are not intended for sale: Provided, That such copies do not exceed three (3).

The soon-to-be-public provision will be like this:

SEC. 190. Importation and exportation of infringing materials
Subject to the approval of the Secretary of Finance, the Commissioner of Customs is hereby empowered to make rules and regulations for preventing the importation or exportation of articles, the importation or exportation of which is prohibited under this Act and under treaties and conventions to which the Philippines may be a party and for seizing and condemning and disposing of the same in case they are discovered after they have been imported or before they are exported.

Stop scrolling here. Welcome back!

Also read: Palace: Thou shall not fear cybercrime law

Seriously, I believe that this proposed law actually made it easier for us. The old provision allowed us to import for "personal use" at most three (3) copies of a work.

That means you can bring one (1) copy of ten (10) books. Or two (2) copies of five (5) movies and so on. The old provision gave us — balikbayans or returning residents to the Philippines an exemption.

Now with the new law, the exemption has been removed. I submit that some dental extraction has happened.

The Customs now has a weaker bite. Let me explain how the teeth fell off.

First, this provision is titled: "The importation of INFRINGING materials". (All caps mine)

Under Copyright Law, only the owner of the work can declare what is infringing.

As in only Peter Jackson can declare what DVD's of his has been infringed, to violate the director's copyright of the work he owns.

Copyright is a private right and can only be enforced if there is a complaint lodged. (May nagreklamo ba na fake a kopya mo ng Lord of the Rings?)

The Customs at the airport has NO knowledge of what is infringing or not.

Will he have copy of all the complaints filed by every copyright owner in the world? How can he tell if it's a copy or original?

That is why the police can't automatically confiscate or raid the DVDs in the stalls. There has to be a complaint filed by the movie owners.

Secondly, the limit to three (3) copies has been removed.

That means, I can bring in twenty (20) copies of "Glitter" as pasalubong to 20 friends, who will now be considering me an "ex-friend" because of my baduy taste. (Okay, hypothetical only!)

But as long as they are not prohibited (non-infringing) under the IP Code, my name as a contact will hopefully not be deleted from twenty phones.

Is this interpretation of the law strained? Maybe. But that's what we lawyers do.

If you have any doubts, take me with you next time you fly out and travel back, with bilins on hand. I am ok with the cheap fares. I don’t ask much.

——————————
Rod Vera is an attorney practicing intellectual property law. You may contact him at attyvera@ymail.com

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

  • Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute
    Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute

    The Philippines should consider backchannel diplomacy to prevent its territorial dispute with China from deteriorating further, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said yesterday. There are a lot of Filipino businessmen with businesses in China and they have friends and connections there. Let’s utilize that, ask them to talk to their friends on how we can resolve this matter peacefully,” Marcos said. …

  • Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims
    Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims

    Japan and the Philippines are set to bolster security ties when President Benigno Aquino visits Tokyo next week, the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to beef up cooperation with Southeast Asian nations facing China’s growing naval ambitions. The two sides will likely agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a possible pact on the status of Japanese military personnel visiting the Philippines to facilitate joint training and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options