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13 July 2007

Collective Administration of Visual Arts in the Philippines

IPO Philippines in cooperation with International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CSAC) had jointly organized the Seminar-Workshop on the Collective Administration of Visual Arts in the Philippines which I attended recently (originally scheduled last June 29). The seminar was held as part of the 10th year of Intellectual Property Code (or RA 8293) with the theme “Celebrating Creativity.”

Three foreign speakers shared their invaluable knowledge and expertise: Mr. Ang Kwee Tiang, Regional Director of CSAC Asia-Pacific Region talked about Basic Principles of Collective Management of Rights; Ms. Carola Streul, Secretary General of European Visual Artists and General Manager of OnLineArt discussed Collective Management of Rights in the Visual Arts, The Droit de Siute, and the Administration of Rights in Visual Arts in the Digital Environment while Ms. Chryssy Tintner, CEO – Visual Arts Copyright Collecting Agency (Viscopy) for Australia & New Zealand talks about Direct Licensing and Book and Magazine Publishers, Museums and Educational Institutions, Licensing and Enforcement of Primary Uses of Rights in the Visual Arts – The Practice in other Countries and its Applicability in the Philippines. Filipino counterparts are Atty. F.D. Nicolas Pichay who talked about Copyright in the Visual Arts and Mr. Albert Avellana, owner and curator of Avellana Art Gallery who talked about The Visual Arts Market in the Philippines.

It is interesting to note that VISCOPY Australia has 7,000 professional visual artist members, comprising of fine artists, sculptors, photographers, cartoonists, illustrators, designers and a number of high end architects. 40% of their members are Indigenous visual artists (Aborigines) which speak a total of 38 languages. Viscopy also represent over 250,000 International artists for the territory of Australia, both exclusively through their 42 CISAC affiliates. They have started with only two staff and now have eight permanent staff running the Collective Society.

More than ever, copyright infringements are now rampant with the growth of the digital market and ease of access to the internet – be it music, digital photographs, illustrations and other form of creative work to the detriment of its creator/ author. These infringements were done by various levels of users including magazine and newspaper publishers, advertising companies, and individuals. Even schools are guilty of this – it was noted that schools usually use copyrighted materials (photo and literary work) in their academic packs. The author is usually at the mercy of these companies who make money out of their creation. In the Philippines, artists and authors have no collective voice, which find themselves in a difficult position to pursue these infringers. Of course, with the exception of musicians who, through FILSCAP, was able to track down and pursue cases against copyright violators.

Mr. Ang Kwee Tiang, Regional Director of CSAC Asia-Pacific Region, expressed his concern over the proliferation of Filipino painter’s masterpieces being sold at foreign auction houses with its creator receiving none since there has been no resale right (Drois de Suite). He noted in particular, the auctioning-off of Anita Magsaysay Ho’s painting in Singapore for $15,000. Under Drois de Suite, which is a French concept and is being applied in all European countries, artists have a share of the profit should the artist’s works be resold on professional art market. Philippines is a gold mine for art and with nearby Singapore, aiming to be the art auction capital of Asia, visual artists must collectively assert themselves over control of their works.

Sometimes, I see online photography sites particularly in Multiply which the author has included, next to his copyright notice, a clause which reads:” Violators shall be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Honestly, I don't know if the photographer really mean what he says because to file a case you will need, according to Harvey, P25,000 for attorneys fees notwithstanding the fee for successive hearings. If you are a photographer just starting out, will you spare trouble of pursuing the case?

Indeed, individual management of copyright is difficult thus, an establishment of Collective Management Society is important for artists. The Collective Society also functions as an alternative recourse in pursuing copyright infringements outside of the courts (which entail considerable amount of money on the part of the artists). According to EVA's Code of Conduct, the basic function of Collective Management Societies is to administer rights on works of their members; the authors. They license uses on a collective basis applying tariffs, collect royalties and distribute those royalties in a timely fashion to the authors. They are not-for-profit entities and operate as fiduciaries. The Collective Management Societies act as fiduciaries for the artists and should always operate in best practice models which strike a balance between efficiency and cost effectiveness, while reaching the highest possible level of transparency. Their main objectives are: efficient licensing of primary rights, such as reproduction and broadcasting; efficient collection of renumeration for secondary rights; fair and quick distribution to authors, nationally and internationally; facilitating the dissemination of works, without active promotion; protecting author's rights' and promoting further economic and moral interests of their members. This Societies represents a broad scope of creatives and this includes painters, sculptors, photographers, designers and artists of applied art, estates of artists and their heirs (which administers Droit de Suite, Reproduction, Broadcasting, Cable retransmission, Public lending and renting, Photocopying, Blank tape levy and Press Mirrors among others).

Later in the afternoon, we were asked to form two groups and discuss among ourselves the issues presented. Atty. Louie Andrew C. Calvario, Chief - Dispute Settlement Division, Documentation, Information & Technology Transfer Bureau of the IPO, urged participants to take a closer look at RA 8293 and assured the group that the IPO is open to suggestions. Another lawyer from the IPO stressed that Intellectual Copyright Law in the Philippines is still on its infancy and has no jurispundence yet so it’s good to start with art communities. IP Code does not even have provisions for CM. Fellow photographer Nathaniel Salang, raised his concern about the effect of Collective Management in standardization of photographer’ fees - which I think is difficult if not impossible to implement since each photographer has a different skill and level of expertise. Reggie Fernando, also pointed out the problem being faced by photographers who enter into a work-for-hire projects - a situation where photographers are on the losing end. I've known from Ms. Streul that Collective Management is different from an Artist's Rep since with CM, you have the freedom to accept projects all by yourself - meaning there's no exclusivity of work. However, the CM will not be able to prosecute infringers on projects entered outside of the CM. Government policy will be of great help too, in swaying market forces.

Furthermore, CM is a new development in Philippine Visual Arts and will become a collective voice that will empower artists to have control over their intellectual property rights. Artists, photographers in particular must be responsible enough to know their rights and exert efforts to educate users as well. It is only through safeguarding our basic rights over our artistic creation that we, photographers can have a sustainable photography industry. This is a good start indeed!

Thanks to Louie Aguinaldo for the heads-up. Likewise, I would like to thank Ms. Pie of the IPO Office who was kind enough to give me extra slots and was able to invite Harvey Chua and Kat Palasi. Kudos to the IPO Philippines for this very worthwhile initiative!

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