ABS-CBN v. Philippine Multi-Media System (G.R. No. 175769-70)

Facts:

Petitioner ABS-CBN, a broadcasting corporation, filed a complaint against respondent PMSI alleging that the latter’s unauthorized rebroadcasting of Channels 2 and 23 infringed on its broadcasting rights and copyright. PMSI posits that it was granted a franchise to operate a digital direct-to-home satellite service and that the rebroadcasting was in accordance with the NTC memo to carry television signals of authorized television broadcast stations, which includes petitioner’s programs. The IPO Bureau of Legal Affairs found PMSI to have infringed petitioner’s broadcasting rights and ordered it to permanently desist from rebroadcasting. On appeal, the IPO Director General found for PMSI. CA affirmed.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner’s broadcasting rights and copyright are infringed.

Ruling: NO.

The Director-General of the IPO correctly found that PMSI is not engaged in rebroadcasting and thus cannot be considered to have infringed ABS-CBN’s broadcasting rights and copyright.

Section 202.7 of the IP Code defines broadcasting as “the transmission by wireless means for the public reception of sounds or of images or of representations thereof; such transmission by satellite is also ‘broadcasting’ where the means for decrypting are provided to the public by the broadcasting organization or with its consent.” On the other hand, rebroadcasting as defined in Article 3(g) of the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, otherwise known as the 1961 Rome Convention, of which the Republic of the Philippines is a signatory, is “the simultaneous broadcasting by one broadcasting organization of the broadcast of another broadcasting organization.” The Working Paper prepared by the Secretariat of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights defines broadcasting organizations as “entities that take the financial and editorial responsibility for the selection and arrangement of, and investment in, the transmitted content.” Evidently, PMSI would not qualify as a broadcasting organization because it does not have the aforementioned responsibilities imposed upon broadcasting organizations, such as ABS-CBN.

ABS-CBN creates and transmits its own signals; PMSI merely carries such signals which the viewers receive in its unaltered form. PMSI does not produce, select, or determine the programs to be shown in Channels 2 and 23. Likewise, it does not pass itself off as the origin or author of such programs. Insofar as Channels 2 and 23 are concerned, PMSI merely retransmits the same in accordance with Memorandum Circular 04-08-88. With regard to its premium channels, it buys the channels from content providers and transmits on an as-is basis to its viewers. Clearly, PMSI does not perform the functions of a broadcasting organization; thus, it cannot be said that it is engaged in rebroadcasting Channels 2 and 23.

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