CASBAA cheers breakthrough Philippine piracy order

Mumbai: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Philippines has served its first temporary restraining order (TRO) against a pirate cable operator – Turtle Cable for copyright infringement.

This latest move by the IPO has been applauded by the international pay-TV industry and Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA).

"This is the first time we have brought a cable piracy case to the IPO, and we are pleased that the IPO administrative judge has recognized the validity of the TV industry’s concerns about protecting our intellectual property," said CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies.

The order enjoins Turtle Cable from re-distributing international cable channels for which it does not have a distribution contract. It is the result of a series of complaints filed by CASBAA on behalf of the broadcasters who own their copyrighted programs.

The IPO issued the restraining order after preliminary hearings and arguments from both sides. Further arguments on the case will be heard in June and July before a final injunction will be considered.

At the end of the process, if the IPO issues an injunction and the cable company persists, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be asked to revoke Turtle Cable’s operating license. This procedure was spelled out in the rules finalized last year under an inter-agency Memorandum of Agreement between the IPO and the NTC.

"Cable piracy remains rampant in the Philippines, and the government is beginning to recognize how damaging this is for the entire legitimate industry," said Cable Boss CEO Timothy Bautista. "We are pleased to see this first sign of concrete action."

Last year CASBAA estimated that for every Philippine home wired for legitimate cable TV, at least one – and probably more – viewed pirated programs. The Association believes this cost the industry US$85 million dollars in annual revenue. "It also deprived the Philippine government of US$38 million in tax payments that could have contributed to its development programs," said Davies.