Are I-Cafés Included In The IP Seal Campaign?

The 2010 anti-software piracy campaign of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT) in Cebu City started last June 1st with a twenty (20) working days grace period for small, medium and big businesses in the area to install and use licensed and/or legal software only in the computers that they are using in their operations. PAPT will start the crackdown on software piracy by doing inspections of business establishments beginning on June 29.

The PAPT campaign came in at the same time that the Intellectual Property Seal (IP Seal) was launched in the city. As stated in the website of the IP Coalition, the IP Seal is a multi-dimensional program that focuses on intensified educational campaign to raise software copyright awareness in the corporate, retail, internet café, and consumer levels. Businesses across all industries that are found to adhere to the country’s IPR laws will be given due recognition through the awarding of the IP Seal. The initial PAPT campaign poster for Cebu area even stated that “only businesses certified with the IP Seal will be spared” from the raids.

Both campaigns, PAPT and IP Seal, seem going well until it was revealed by an i-café owner in the area that the availment of the IP Seal by businesses, i-cafés included, that are already compliant to the IPR Law will entail a minimum of PhP5,000.00 annual fee. The annual IP Seal Fee goes up to PhP20,000.00 depending on the capitalization of the IP-Compliant business. I-Café Pilipinas, the national advocacy body of the Internet café industry in the country, initiates the “No to IP Seal Movement” to oppose the imposition of the minimum PhP5, 000-charge by the IP coalition on awarding the seal.

The “No to IP Seal Movement” gained momentum and caught the attention of some concerned government agencies as well as private companies and organizations who are members of the IP Coalition. The PAPT campaign with specific mention of immunity from inspections to businesses that availed of the IP Seal was pulled out in the third week of June and the IP Coalition is now saying that i-cafés are not part of the IP Seal program.

As it stands now, the IP Coalition and PAPT will not touch the Internet cafés on the imposition of the IP Seal as the basis for immunity from raids but the establishments will still be subject to inspections for compliance to intellectual property rights of software developers. Personally, I see these developments as fair and reasonable for the i-cafés. I am wondering how the IP Coalition can impose the minimum PhP5,000 annual IP Seal fee to i-cafés using free and open source software (FOSS) in their computers. Let us accept the fact that those FOSS i-cafés are also IP-compliant and should be rewarded with IP Seals for their non-violation of the IPR Law.

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