ORETA: LOWER SOFTWARE PRICES TO REDUCE PIRACY

TESSIE AQUINO-ORETAManila, May 29, 2003 -- Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta urged the business and 
software sector yesterday to give consumers better incentives  such as 
"hefty price discounts"  to buy original software and discard their pirated 
software programs.

Oreta, who chairs the Senate committee on public information and mass 
media, said that besides enacting a new law penalizing all forms of digital 
piracy, the sectors affected by intellectual property pilferage could help 
curb the proliferation of illegally produced materials in digital disc 
formats.

During the committee's final hearing on the optical media bill yesterday 
morning, Oreta said the entertainment industry is presently offering 
licensed digital video discs (DVDs), video compact discs (VCDs) and compact 
discs (CDs) at lower and more attractive prices to encourage consumers to 
buy the originals discs rather than pirated copies.

"We hope that our friends in the business software industry could follow 
the movie and music sectors by similarly offering hefty discounts on the 
sale of copyrighted software to ordinary consumers," she said. "In this 
way, all sectors would be working in tandem with government in waging an 
effective campaign to wipe out digital piracy, which has been killing these 
industries."

Business Software Alliance vice president Jeffrey Hardee said during a 
Senate hearing that price discounts are already being offered for students, 
government agencies, corporations and other groups that buy software in 
volume.

However, Oreta said, business software firms should consider larger 
discounts and other incentives to make original computer programs more 
attractive to consumers.

She said that licensed VCDs, for instance, are now sold for only P150 to 
P250 to make them more affordable to consumers, while original audio CDs 
are sold for as low as P250.

She also allayed concerns by some consumer groups that the proposed optical 
media law could impose limits on non-commercial use of digital disc 
technology and the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

"Besides protecting the intellectual property rights of both local and 
foreign artists and information technology professionals, the optical media 
bill will also help ensure the survival of the entertainment and software 
industries in the country, which have suffered heavy losses as a result of 
wide-scale piracy," Oreta said.

The hearing was attended by representatives of consumer welfare groups, 
among them Coalition for Consumer Protection and Welfare (CCPW) president 
Vicente del Fiero Jr. and Consumers Union of the Philippines (CUP) 
commissioner Quirino Martinez, who were at the hearing upon Oreta's 
invitation.

Also present were Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) president 
Greg Lainez, Intellectual Property Coalition (IPC) president John Lesaca, 
Association of Video Distributors of the Philippines (AVIDPHIL) executive 
director Ed Sazon and University of the Philippines College of Law 
professor J.J. Disini. (By Jose Rodel Clapano, Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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