Monday, October 12, 2009

Intellectual Property Rights of An Artist

Ian Valladarez has earned a name for himself in the local art scene as an authority in wire sculpture. He also paints and does crafts for sale at Balay Negrense, a popular museum in Silay City, Negros Occidental where he is based.

He told me about his problem regarding another artist selling keychains with a design allegedly similar to his trademark designs sold at the museum gift shop. The artist is reportedly peddling similar keychains outside the museum premises at 25% of the museum price. So Ian asked: what is his remedy against this situation?

Sadly, many artists and people in the Philippines are not aware of Intellectual Property Rights. And if so, they freely copy other people's works and present them as their original work hoping nobody would find out. Or, if they're ever find out, a court litigation would be very expensive the offended party couldn't even start filing a complaint. Like so much ado over a copycat keychain.

But artists, of all people, should realize how important it is to come up with an original. No matter how masterful the strokes are, copying an Amorsolo or a Valladarez is still not something to be proud of.

What stops artists like Ian from asserting their copyright over their artistic work is the fact that most of these works of art, although their original creations, are not registered under the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

Section 172 of Republic Act No. 8293, known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines enumerate the literary and artistic works protected by the law as original works from the moment of their creation. Meaning, an original work needs no registration because it is already considered an original from the moment of its creation.

As the artist signs his work and dates it, he is signifying his ownership over that creation. Nobody else is allowed to alter, change or modify it but the creator himself. His copyright over the work is protected under Section 177 of the copyright law. A copy or economic right is simply the author's right to carry out, authorize or prevent other people from unauthorized use or sale of his intellectual property.

The only exception is the "fair use" of a copyrighted work under Section 185 which allows the fair use of the copyrighted work for news reporting, teaching, research, and similar purposes.

Section 216 provides for remedies of the private complainant against the copycat for the infringement or unauthorized copying or use of his work such as an injunction, damages, impounding, and destruction of the infringing works.

A violation of this law is criminal in nature which may subject the offender to imprisonment from one year to 9 years plus fine from P50,000.00 to P1,500,000.00 depending on the number of offenses committed.

A complainant may personally or through a representative file his Affidavit of Evidence under Section 218 stating:

(a.) That at the time specified therein, a copyright subsisted in the work or subject matter;

(b.) That he or the person named therein is the owner of the copyright; and

(c.) That the copy of the work or other subject matter annexed to the Affidavit is a true copy thereof.

The offender shall enjoy the presumption that he is the owner of the copyright subject matter of the controversy until proven otherwise.

Moral of the story: an artist must rise to the challenge of giving his best to give to the world an original creation. A copycat will never earn a name for himself as an artist; worse, he will lose it, as a con artist.

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