SC: Musicians can collect royalties for radio broadcasts on commercial sites

Screenshot of the main Supreme Court building

In a legal victory for the country’s music industry and intellectual property protection advocates, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Philippine Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (Filscap), upholding the rights of its members to collect royalties and sue for copyright infringement.

The High Court also held that the free use by commercial establishments of radio broadcasts goes beyond the normal exploitation of the creative work of the copyright holder.

Filscap is a non-profit organization that owns the public performing rights to the copyrighted musical works of its members. It also holds the right to license public performances of foreign copyrighted musical works from its members and overseas affiliated performing rights societies.

It is responsible for enforcing and protecting the copyrighted works of its members or affiliates by issuing licenses and collecting royalties, license fees or both from anyone who publicly exhibits or performs music from the organization’s global repertoire.

In a decision written by Justice Rodil Zalameda, the Supreme Court en banc granted Filscap’s motion seeking to overturn a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA had previously upheld a Baguio City Regional Trial Court ruling dismissing a complaint by Filscap filed 14 years ago against a restaurant company, Anrey Inc., for copyright infringement.

Anrey, owner of two Sizzling Plate branches in Baguio City, was sued by Filscap in 2008 for unauthorized public performance of copyrighted music in his business establishments. The company denied the charges, saying its restaurants played whatever was broadcast on the radio station they were tuned to.

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performance in itself

In a statement released Thursday summarizing its decision, the Supreme Court said it found the merits of Filscap’s petition for review. The petitioner, he noted, is accredited by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to act as a collective management organization and is a member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, based in Paris, the umbrella organization for all composers’ societies. worldwide.

The court ruled that it was obvious that the first element of copyright infringement had been satisfied. Citing United States case law, he said that broadcasting radio programs containing copyrighted music through loudspeakers is, in itself, a performance.

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Used for profit

As to Anrey’s argument that he was exempt from the requirement to obtain a license since the radio station playing the music had already obtained one from Filscap, the court said that radio reception creates a performance separate from the broadcast and that radio reception transmitted through loudspeakers to increase profit does not constitute and is not analogous to fair use.

Although Anrey’s restaurants do not directly charge a fee for airing radio programs, such reception was clearly done to improve profits by providing entertainment to his customers, who pay for the dining experience.

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According to the court, denying Filscap’s petition would affect the copyright holder’s market, in which, instead of paying royalties, establishments will instead use free radio reception.

The court held that Filscap’s right to authorize public performance of copyrighted works, public performance without a Filscap license and Anrey’s refusal to pay license fees were duly established.


He ordered Anrey to pay Filscap 10,000 pesos in damages for the unlicensed performance of the copyrighted songs, 50,000 pesos in attorney fees, plus an interest rate 12% per year from September 8, 2009 to June 30, 2013, and thereafter 6% per year from July 1, 2013, until final judgment.

The court also ordered that a copy of its decision be sent to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines for comment, and to Congress for possible amendments to the Intellectual Property Code without violating the Berne Convention and aspects commercialization of intellectual property rights. (TRIPS).

The Berne Convention provides that authors of musical works have the exclusive right to authorize the public performance of their works, including “public performance by any means or process” and “any communication to the public of execution of works”.

The TRIPS Agreement, on the other hand, incorporates by reference the copyright provisions of the Berne Convention.

Subject to license

According to the Filscap website, those who intend to use copyrighted songs at concerts or events, television and radio stations, cable television services, new media (websites, mobile applications, etc.), public transport and establishments (hotels, restaurants, casinos, retail stores, shopping malls, cinemas, supermarkets, salons, spas, gyms, music salons, KTV bars , dance clubs, clinics, offices, entertainment, music on hold, schools/studios, etc.) must be licensed by the organization.

“Public performance” refers to the reading or singing of a copyrighted work, either directly or through any device or process, he pointed out.

“In the case of audiovisual works, it involves the projection of images in sequence and the setting up of the accompanying sound audible to the public. In the case of a sound recording, it is about making the recorded sound audible to the audience,” he said.

However, the Intellectual Property Code provides exceptions to the rule of prior authorization, such as in cases where the public performance is done strictly for a charity or religious institution, if it is part of reporting on events news, or if it is made by the mass media for the purpose of disseminating information, among others.


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