This month, the Philippines celebrates its creative industries by dedicating a special month to their work. On top of that, the Government presented a long-awaited ‘gift’.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) announced that local site-blocking plans are about to come to fruition. IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba signed a memorandum that will go into effect in late November.
As part of the agreement, Internet providers will voluntarily block access to known pirate sites. These plans aren’t new; a similar memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed more than two years ago, but that never went into effect.
New Blocking Agreement
The new MOU is an amended agreement between the Philippine Government and local Internet providers. The four-page document sets the rules for an administrative pirate site-blocking scheme, that doesn’t require any oversight from courts.
The basics of the plan are fairly straightforward. Copyright holders can submit site blocking requests, which are then sent to dedicated evaluation officers who will review all details and make a decision within five days.
If a blocking request is granted, Internet providers are informed, so they can implement appropriate blocking measures. This can be as simple as blocking DNS queries, banning URLs, blacklisting IP-addresses, or a combination of these measures.
After being alerted, Internet providers have two days to put the blockades in place.
“Upon receipt of the Request, the ISP/s shall, within forty-eight hours, implement an efficient and effective Site Blocking mechanism to block its subscribers’ access to the Website complained of,” the memorandum reads.
The operators of the targeted sites will also be informed about the blocking measures and allowed to appeal. If site operators don’t have a contact address, they can find a copy of the blocking request on IPOPHL’s website, where these will eventually appear.
Similarly, Internet providers are also allowed to share any concerns, in case problems arise down the road.
While these types of administrative blocking schemes are not new, this is the first one of its kind in Asia. All parties involved hope that it will help to deter rampant piracy in the Philippines, where more than half of consumers admit to accessing pirate services.
An earlier version of the memorandum proposed a more complex system, with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as a middleman. The NTC remains a signatory to the updated version, but won’t have to review all requests individually.
The new administrative site-blocking scheme is a Philippine endeavor, but the efforts were closely watched by Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association, which is mentioned as a partner.
Earlier this year, there were reports that the MPA signed an agreement with IPOPHL to develop a “rolling site-blocking regime” with the primary focus to disrupt access to pirate sites. That sounds similar to the agreement just announced.
All in all, the Philippines is making steady progress in its anti-piracy battle, joining more than forty other countries around the world with its blocking program. Interestingly, site blocking is not a viable option yet in the United States, Hollywood’s home turf.