How OMB Conducts Raids on I-Cafés
In my topic previous to this, I discussed how a complainant (IPR holder) and PAPT prepare and conduct the search and seizures of documents and articles in an i-café suspected of violating The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
As promised, I will now discuss how the Optical Media Board, the national government agency tasked to implement Republic Act No. 9239 otherwise known as Optical Media Act of 2003, conducts the raids on i-cafés suspected of violating the said law.
The happenings I describe below are the actual experience in our area which OMB raided (their term is “inspected”) early last year. The series of events prior to actual raid were as follows:OMB sent letters through mail to i-café owners in our place reminding them about the Optical Media Law, the need to register their optical media writers (CD/DVD writers) and the provisions of the IPR Law on software piracy.
- Our ICA negotiated with the officers of OMB to give our members a grace period during which a campaign to comply with the provisions of the laws will be conducted by the association. A three-month grace period was granted by OMB.
- The association exerted efforts to convince the member i-café owners to buy and install genuine software as well as register their optical media writers to legalize the CD-burning services they offer to customers. A financing scheme by a commercial bank to finance the purchase of genuine software our ICA members was worked-out by the association. There are those who complied and there are those who did not.
- A month or so after the grace period, the OMB Inspection Team composed of around twenty (20) agents raided the various parts of our city where many i-cafés are clustered. They have with them the Inspection Order signed by the OMB Chairman and referred to the individual mailed letter as basis for doing the inspection.
- They were able to inspect more than thirty (30) i-cafes in which around ten (10) failed to submit proofs of compliance to the OMB and IPR Laws. The agents took one (1) CPU Assembly from each i-café found violating the statutes for preventive custody.
- The next day, those found violating the laws showed up at OMB Office and were told to buy the genuine software (mostly O/S) and their units under protective custody were released to them after showing proofs (installer CDs, manuals, COA stickers and ORs) of purchase.