Composers’ union wins copyright lawsuit

Hooray for composers!

The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the petition of the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (Filscap) to reverse and set aside previous rulings by the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC) denying its rights to collect license fees and royalties over copyrighted works of its member artists.

The ruling upheld the intellectual property (IP) rights of creators in the music industry.

In a decision written by Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, the court en banc ordered the respondent, Anrey Inc., to pay Filscap P10,000 for the unlicensed public performance of the copyrighted songs on Filscap’s repertoire, and P50,000 for lawyer’s fees, plus interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum from 8 September 2009 until 30 June 2013, and 6 percent per annum from 1 July 2013 until finality of the court’s judgment.

The court also ordered that a copy of the decision be furnished the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines for guidance and information, as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, for possible statutory amendments on the Intellectual Property Code without violating the state’s commitments under the Berne Convention and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

The Berne Convention grants authors of musical works the exclusive right of authorizing the public performance of their works, including the “public performance by any means or process” and “any communication to the public of the performance of the works.”

The TRIPS Agreement incorporates, by reference, the provisions on copyright from the Berne Convention.

Filscap is a non-profit society of composers, authors and publishers that owns public performance rights over the copyrighted musical works of its members.

It also owns the rights to license public performances in the Philippines of copyrighted foreign musical works of its members and affiliate performing rights societies abroad. It is deputized to enforce and protect the copyrighted works of its members or affiliates by issuing licenses and collecting royalties and/or license fees from anyone who publicly exhibits or performs music belonging to Filscap’s worldwide repertoire.

The case began when a Filscap representative monitored that between July and September 2008, the branches of Sizzling Plate Restaurant along Session Road and along Abandon Extension in Baguio City, both owned by respondent Anrey, played copyrighted music owned by Filscap.

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