‘Education is key to crushing piracy’
“I just want to talk about the present,” Optical Media Board (OMB) chairman Ronnie Ricketts told the Inquirer before the press conference for World Intellectual Property Day 2015 last Wednesday in Makati City.
Ricketts, just out of a six-month suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged neglect of duty, insisted on discussing only OMB’s participation in the global event.
“I was back at work last April 8, but I’m still appealing [the case]. I don’t want to dwell on that because I have work to do. I don’t want to preempt my own moves. What’s important is, I’m back,” Ricketts said.
The OMB, tasked with confiscating illegally recorded and sold video and audio materials, is working to contribute to another milestone, he added.
“The Philippines was stricken off the [United States Special] 301 Watchlist in April last year,” Ricketts said.
“All our hard work, operations, information campaign and coordination [paid off].”
He elaborated: “My campaign was holistic… that’s why [the United States] is happy with me. We don’t discriminate; we protect local and international movies equally.”
Better coordination Ricketts, who starred mostly in action films from the 1980s to the early 2000s, explained that communication with film industry executives is crucial to the success of the board’s operations: “[Distributors] reach out to me. We discuss the problems. They monitor our work and they’re happy with the results. Finally, the country was taken out of 301.
Hopefully this year, we will not be back on it. We work hard, with the same motivation and intensity.”
Better coordination continues to prove beneficial to combating piracy, he said.
“We’re trying to tie up with local government officials,” he told the Inquirer.
“The other day, I was with Parañaque Mayor (Edwin) Olivarez. Yesterday, we had a dialogue with vendors in the Baclaran area. We suggested that they sell other goods. They seemed happy that we were talking with them. We warned them of the consequences [of selling pirated goods]. They told me, ‘Chairman, we thought it was okay to sell again because you were gone.’ I told them, ‘Pasensya na, I have to do my job. I know you have your own problems but in time, they’ll be overcome.’”
He reiterated, “Education is important. I’m trying to work with Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), in terms of giving [the vendors] scholarship grants, so they’ll have more opportunities and a better future. You really have to start from the grassroots. Mayor Olivarez and I agree that the next step is provide them with livelihood projects.”
As for the OMB’s participation in the World Intellectual Property Day event, Ricketts said, “It’s a partnership with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the head agencies [of] the campaign. We’re a team, with the Motion Picture Association and Intellectual Property Office (IPO).”
Wednesday’s event was attended by speakers lawyer Mayet Dagsa of the IPO; Nilo Pagtalunan of the PNP-CIDG; Brian Breauhaus, economic officer of the US Embassy; and Paul Ingram of security service group Genric Asia.
Ricketts recounted meeting up last week with officers of malls in Manila as part of efforts to spread awareness in camcording activities: “We talked to the administration, the security guards and usherettes, to [remind them to be] aware of what’s happening inside the movie houses and elsewhere in the malls. That same night, we caught two Chinese nationals.”
Pagtalunan confirmed the incident in his speech: “Two Chinese national suspects were caught recording the movie ‘Avengers’ at SM Manila using mobile phones. The case for violation, RA 10088 or the Anti-Camcording Act of 2010, was filed by our office before the Manila City Prosecutor’s office.”
The film opened in Philippine cinemas April 22, over a week ahead of its US release.
Ricketts showed the attendees a t-shirt bearing the message, “Bawal Kumopya.” Stickers with the same design and contact details (tel. no. 3736829, firstname.lastname@example.org) were distributed during the press conference.
Attendees were invited to a screening of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” after the event.