Music piracy rampant in barangay election campaign


If the Intellectual Property Office and individual recording artists or companies decide to go after those using original music in campaign jingles during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), the courts would be swamped with lawsuits.

Thieves and pirates are brazenly making their pitch on originals and musical adaptations of popular songs. I’ve been hearing popular tunes such as Inigo Pascual’s “Dahil Sa ’Yo,” Gloc-9 rap, and Waraynon songs in this campaign season. The melodies and compositions are not even altered or arranged to suit the political battle among candidates courting the electorate and vying for posts in the barangay and SK levels. The audio ads’ music is blared intact, as if it were the copycat recorders—and their principals—who composed it.

The nerve.

If you ask Filscap or its members, they can very well go after the violators of its rules. Filscap, or the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, is the agency that regulates, gives permission for publishing, grants royalties, gets percentage from any negotiation on behalf of music creators, clears issues about copyright infringement, etc. 

But does Filscap have the machinery to monitor these campaign jingles that violate copyright protection? Remember that there are 42,029 barangays in the country. Considering that there are now at least a hundred jingle ads using illegally adapted music circulating nationwide, is Filscap equipped to monitor and chase after the culprits?

Well, yes, according to veteran musician, composer, marketer and manager Tato Malay. “They have sophisticated communication machines to detect the unlawful use of the registered materials,” he said.

Within my hearing distance alone in just one town that has 95 barangays in Quezon province, a number of familiar tunes are incessantly selling prospective barangay captains and councilors and SK aspirants.

In Kamuning, Quezon City, where he lives, election jingles are constantly playing using copyrighted music, Malay said. He quipped that if the likes of Vehnee Saturno discovered this theft, the perpetrators would surely get it: “Pag nalaman ‘yan nina Vehnee Saturno, yari sila.”

Filscap is strict in the implementation of its rules—e.g., allusions or direct lifting of music from local and foreign melodic creations in a TV or radio commercial have corresponding prices or royalties for the original source.

But do you really think that at this point, Filscap and/or individual composers and publishers can pin down those who do not bother to seek permission for the use of their work? 

Think about it: These copyright violators are seeking public offices; their mandate is to uphold the law, yet they themselves are lawbreakers.

Adapting music from rightful owners without seeking permission or even simply acknowledging the original owner is robbery.

How can the members of the community whose votes these candidates are wooing trust them not to commit corrupt acts when they come to power when they cannot even toe simple copyright rules?

What example are these candidates showing to their prospective constituents?

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