Thursday, February 28, 2008

COPYRIGHT AND ALL THINGS NICE

A commentary from one of the readers of this blog named ZANJO was fair enough: that there was rampant plagiarism in the old komiks industry.

I am with Zanjo on this one, for personally, this is also what I think – based upon what I saw in the old industry.

Many serials were lifted from either a best selling novel that the masses didn’t even realize existed; a Hollywood feature film that made a killing at the box office; drawings of well-known artists from western comics were sometimes copied verbatim, flaws and all.

All these above-mentioned aspects were in fact the absolute reason why critics of the old industry were too harsh and mean-spirited. They want the industry to clean up its act, and for once be more original rather than a mere copycat of the original western creations.

But, who's to be blamed for this? The publishers? The writers? The Illustrators? The readers?

It’s rather hard to pin point exactly who.

Because historically, the Philippines have always played safe in terms of economics rather than originality or creativity.

Berne Convention, or Bern Convention, or International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (copyright law)

The international copyright agreement adopted by an international conference in Bern (Berne) in 1886 and subsequently modified several times (Berlin, 1908; Rome, 1928; Brussels, 1948; Stockholm, 1967; and Paris, 1971). Signatories of the Convention constitute the Berne Copyright Union whose intention was to recognize and apply copyright laws to all authors, regardless of nationality and/or country, and thereby began a movement for some international accord. At Bern, Switzerland, in 1886, representatives of 10 countries adopted the Berne Convention (formally known as the International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works), which established the Berne Union.

Some nations acquiesced to this union, others did it whole-heartedly, but unfortunately, the Philippines flatly rejected it during its early years of its existence.

Lawmakers thought that there were more disadvantages than advantages joining this union. If the Philippines had joined the union, we would have been mandatorily adhering to the rules without ifs and buts.

And the price to pay was hefty!

Every song we play on the radio, TV, movies and stage presentations, we MUST PAY ROYALTY to the authors.

Every book, recorded song, other reading materials – we must pay royalty to the authors.

Every film or tv presentations we do, we must pay the authors, including playing music on juke boxes while you sip beer in a night club or restaurant.

This is the reason why the lawmakers of our land decided that we’re not that rich. We’d be more deprived of all these modern world inventions if we did.

Therefore, we remained free of obligations. For instance, we can play music, adapt foreign music and make it a tagalog one, quote poetry or prose from a foreign work, and the devil may care if the authors balk about it.

And the rest…as we all say… is history.

However, since we did not join the union, other nations can also play our music, copy this and that from our country, and we can’t do anything about it as well.

One example that comes to mind is: DAHIL SA IYO.

When Mike Velarde (not the El Shaddai guy but the COMPOSER), wrote the song DAHIL SA IYO and was recorded in the fifties, it became very popular in this archipelago. Its popularity overflowed like tsunami from the shores of our islands, and after Tony Bennett recorded it as BECAUSE OF YOU and became a hit, many other countries followed suit. It was recorded in France, Germany, England, Spain, etc, and the poor Mike Velarde didn’t even get a cent from all these shenanigans.

After Sylvia la Torre recorded Levi celerio’s lyrics of WARAY-WARAY, again, the song was translated to different languages and no one from RP received anything. Even Eartha Kitt had daringly recorded it in Tagalog! And this recording is still being played on the radio allover the world.

When Hollywood used to visit the Philippines to do all those smash hit war movies, most of the Filipino compositions used there were taken without permission. There were several of them used Filipino compositions, and one of them even unabashedly used AY, AY, KALISUD as the theme song of a John Wayne film! I could no longer remember exactly which one (BACK TO BATAAN, maybe), but it did happen.

But, let's face it. We raked in more advantages than disadvantages from this stand. If you listen to the songs recorded in the Philippines during the 50s and the 60s (try listening to TIA DELY'S program on DZRH) and you'll realize that during those years, we have recorded more tagalog songs based upon smash hit records from USA and UK, translated in tagalog. To name a few:

ANG KAWAWANG COWBOY by Fred Panopio (from Rhinestone Cowboy)
IKAW LANG ANG IBIGIN KO (from My Song of Love)
KINSE ANYOS SA MUNTINGLUPA (from Pretty Baby)
ROSANG TATTOO (from Rose Tattoo)
KAY SARAP-SARAP (from QUE SERA, SERA)

Meanwhile, it is so convenient to use recordings from other parts of the world in the Philippines. In the 70s, when the Philippines produced a glut of amazingly wonderful music (in fact the world produced really good music during this decade), when I was writing dramas for TV, I made sure that every episode I write, I specify recorded music that fits the theme of that episode to heighten the impact of a scene or story as a whole. I mean, can we afford to pay STREISAND, for instance, for her song LOVE COMES FROM THE MOST UNEXPECTED PLACES for an episode of ALINDOG? Even our own local recorded songs are free from any fee obligations. I had a feast using those wonderful, thought-provoking original ASIN MUSIC for my tv episodes in those days. I mean I feel bad that the composers didn’t get any remunerations from their work, but it's just the way it is and we can’t do anything about it. Besides, these musicians have no representatives, or publishers even, who would take care of all royalty matters. Say if you want to use AEGIS’ song for a film or tv drama, you can’t be chasing the band in Singapore or Tokyo or Hongkong to negotiate royalty matters. Besides, TV stations would rather not pay them in the first place.

The Bern Convention became a reality from the insistence of French author VICTOR HUGO (Les Miserables). The world moved on since then. However, we remained the same in the Philippines.

So, Zanjo… this is the sad reality of the status quo in the Philippines.

Therefore, as audience or reader, let’s just be discriminating. If a komiks serial is lifted from another Stephen King work, for instance, but claimed by the scriptwriter to be his… then, you know what to do: Don’t patronize his BALDERDASH.

11 Comments:

Blogger Teddy Pavon said...

But the Philippines did sign into the Berne Convention. I did some research and it seems that we've signed all but one major international copyright agreement.

I got this from the faq on philippine copyright:

5. Is a patent/copyright in other countries recognized in the Philippines, and vice versa?
Answer: Those countries which are signatories to the Berne Convention are required to extend to the nationals of other signatory-countries the rights and privileges that they give to their own nationals relative to the copyright. The Philippines is a signatory to the Berne Convention; hence, it recognizes patent/copyright in other signatory countries.

February 28, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Ted:

You're right, but this happened much later. I haven't really checked when it happened but it must have been in the early 90s and it did not encompass everything, so the Philippines is still playing songs made in America without paying royalties. And I doubt if radio stations would even pay per song they play. I think it is more like copying per se like what we used to do in the 50;s and 60s that was curbed. We still don't pay royalties for songs when a talent sings it, or when it is used in TV shows or radio dramas, etc.

So, tuloy ang ligaya pa rin :)

February 28, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Teddy Pavon said...

Yeah, It says we fully signed the treaty in 1997.
I think it's just that we're inherently oblivious to following copyright. Filipinos by nature are communal after all, so I guess that carries on even to art. Copyright is a western idea after all, and western ideas usually take some time to be fully absorbed by the east (like democracy in Afganistan or Iraq for instance). I think the reason why infringing on copyright is so rampant until this time is that people do not see it as taboo. We aren't as strict as other countries in terms of piracy, which is why people think it's ok to rip off creator owned things.

February 29, 2008 at 6:00 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Ted:

Thanks for the additional research. Your deductions are right. Even until now, when I watch TV shows from RP, they still use canned music and songs performed Gratis et Amore. This practice is too embedded now in our culture and rather difficult to stop.

Plus the new rampant piracy of DVD movies and song CDs, there would be a need to RE-PROGRAM the minds of our citizenry to fix such malady.

February 29, 2008 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Video 48 said...

Hi!
Just passing by. Nice topic and insights. Very informative!

March 3, 2008 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Thanks for visiting, Video48.

March 4, 2008 at 6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JM,

Totoo iyan, rampant talaga ang rip-offs sa atin, lalo na sa TV. Natatandaan ko ko yung sikat na show ni Dolphy, John & Marsha yata, yung theme song eh RUBBER DUCKY, ni Quincy Jones, pero wala namang sumisita eh...


Auggie

March 5, 2008 at 3:21 AM  
Anonymous Rody Vera said...

I'm very interested to get the lyrics of Kinse Anyos sa Muntinlupa, any links you can point me to? Or if you have, can you email to rodyvera@yahoo.com please?

thanks

May 22, 2008 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 22, 2008 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Rody:

This song is regularly performed in Tiya Dely Magpayo's Sunday night program over DZRH.

You can email or contact DZRH, possibly direct your message to Dely Magpayo:

DZRH, MBC Building, Star City, Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Philippines 1301


Phone Numbers
(Country Code - 63, City Code - 02 or 2)


DZRH News Center

832-6115, 832-6116, 832-6117, 832-6166


News Center Fax

832-6113


Text Messages (SMS)

For Philippine-based texters, write DZRH (space) YOUR MESSAGE, then send to 2299.

For overseas texters, send your messages to +63915-687-0883.


E-mail address

dzrh@mbcradio.net

The collections of old tagalog songs they play here are unbelievably varied. Many I haven't heard before. In fact, this is the program where I learned that Dely Magpayo used to be a recording star as well. One of the most popular recordings she made was a song called: NABASAG ANG BANGA. Intriguing title, huh? She also recorded several duet songs with the late Ruben Tagalog.

If you're in CALI, you should wake up at around 6:00AM Saturdays to catch the show (a 3-hour show) and the final hour is alloted for live performances of old tagalog songs. It's Dr. Laxamana (one of the regular guests in the show) who sang this song a few times (It's either this is his favorite, or this is the only song he knows :-D

Good luck. I'm sure you'll have no problem getting the lyrics.

-JM

May 22, 2008 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Paruparong buwan said...

Salamat sa comments mga kabayan! Looking at Pinoy komiks characters to alter images for an art project and I do out of trying to do the right thing, I'll try to get intouch with the publisher o Kung posible yung mismong artist or relatives Ng artist for permission. Kailangan ko Lang further research Sino yung artist, like zuma or darna

October 1, 2014 at 6:05 PM  

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