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ABS-CBN Corp., petitioner vs. GMA Pres. and CEO Atty.

Felipe Gozon, GMA Vice

President and COO Gilberto Duavit Jr., Marissa L. Flores, Jessica A. Soho, GMA
Head of News Operations Grace Dela Pea-Reyes, GMA News Program Manager
John Oliver Manalastas, et. al., respondents.
Ponente: Justice Marvic F. Leonen
On August 13, 2004, petitioner ABS-CBN filed a criminal complaint against
respondent GMA for (alleged) act of copyright infringement under Sections 177 and
211 of the Intellectual Property Code (RA 8293, as amended), because the
respondent aired footage of the arrival and homecoming of OFW Angelo dela Cruz
at NAIA from Iraq without the petitioner's consent. ABS-CBN stated that it has an
agreement with Reuter's that the petition will contribute news and content that it
owns and makes to Reuters in exchange of the latter's news and video material, and
Reuters will ensure that ABS-CBN's materials cannot be aired in the country.
The respondent was a subscriber of Reuter's and CNN live feeds. After it received
the live feed of Angelo Dela Cruz's arrival and homecoming from Reuter's, it
immediately aired the video from that news feed. The respondent alleged that its
news staff was not aware that there was (a news embargo) agreement between ABSCBN and Reuters. Respondent alleged that it was not also aware that it aired
petitioner's footage.
Assistant City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza issued resolution on 3 December 2004
which found probable cause to indict Dela Pea-Reyes and Manalastas. The
respondents appealed the Prosccutor's resolution before DOJ. DOJ Secretary Raul
M. Gonzalez ruled in favor of respondents in his resolution dated 1 August 2005 and
held that good faith may be raised as a defense in the case.
Meanwhile, DOJ Acting Secretary Alberto C. Agra issued a resolution on 29 June
2010 which reversed Sec. Gonzalez's resolution and found probable cause to charge
Dela Pea-Reyes, Manalastas, as well as to indict Gozon, Duavit, Jr., Flores, and
Soho for violation of the Intellectual Property Code (due to copyright infringement).
The Court of Appeals rendered a decision on 9 November 2010, which granted the
Petition for Certiorari to reverse and set aside DOJ Sec. Alberto Agra's resolution
and a prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or Writ of
Preliminary Injunction.
The appellate court stated that the petitioner has copyright of its news coverage, but
respondents act of airing five (5) seconds of the homecoming footage without notice

of the No Access Philippines restriction of the live Reuter's video feed, was
undeniably attended by good faith and thus, serves to exculpate from criminal
liability under the Intellectual Property Code.
W/N there is probable cause to find respondents to be held liable criminally for the
case of copyright infringement under the Intellectual Property Law (RA 8293, as
The Supreme Court PARTIALLY GRANTED ABS-CBNs petition and ordered RTC
Q.C. Branch 93 to continue with the criminal proceedings against Grace Dela PeaReyes and John Oliver Manalastas due to copyright infringement.
The other respondents, Atty. Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit Jr., Marissa L. Flores,
and Jessica A. Soho were held not liable for the (criminal) act of copyright
infringement. The Court held that their mere membership in GMA7's Board of
Directors does not mean that they have knowledge, approval, or participation in the
criminal act of copyright infringement., as there is a need for their direct/active
participation in such act. Also, there was lack of proof that they actively
participated or exercised moral ascendancy over Manalastas and Dela Cruz-Pena.
Contrary to GMAs contention, the Supreme Court deemed GMA's mere act of
rebroadcast of ABS-CBNs news footage (arrival and homecoming of OFW Angelo
dela Cruz at NAIA from Iraq last 22 July 2004) for 2 mins and 40 secs.without the
latter's authority creates probable cause to find GMA's news personnel Manalastas
and Dela Pea-Reyes criminally liable for violating provisions of Intellectual
Property Code (Section 216217 of RA 8293, as amended) that imposes strict
liability for copyright infringement, since they have not been diligent in their
functions to prevent that footage from being aired on television. They knew that
there would be consequences in carrying ABS-CBNs footage in their broadcast
which is why they allegedly cut the feed from Reuters upon seeing ABS-CBNs logo
and reporter.
The difference of an act mala in se and mala prohibita was stated in the present
case. Acts mala in se requires presence of criminal intent and the person's
knowledge of the nature of his/her act, while in acts mala prohibita, presence of
criminal intent and the person's knowledge is not necessary. The Court also stated
that Philippine laws on copyright infringement does not require criminal intent
(mens rea) and does not support good faith as a defense. Thus, the act of
infringement and not the intent is the one that causes the damage.
It held that ABS-CBN's video footage is copyrightable because it is under
audiovisual works and cinematographic works and works produced by a process

analogous to cinematography or any process for making audiovisual recordings. It

also stated that news or the event itself is not copyrightable. The Court
differentiated idea and expression idea meant as a form, the look or appearance
of a thing while expression is its reality or the external, perceptible world of
articulate sounds and visible written symbols that others can understand. Thus,
the Supreme Court stated that only the expression of an idea is protected by
copyright, not the idea itself, citing the US Supreme Court's decision in Bakervs
Selden (101 U.S. 99). In the present case, expression applies to the event captured
and presented in a specific medium via cinematography or processes analogous to it.
The Court also gave the four-fold test under the Fair Use Doctrine (stated in section
185 of RA 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code, as amended) to determine fair
a. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a
commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
b. The nature of the copyrighted work;
c. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
copyrighted work as a whole; and
d. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
copyrighted work.
Fair use, which is an exception to copyright owners monopoly of the work's usage,
was defined by the Supreme Court as privilege to use the copyrighted material in a
reasonable manner without the copyright owner's consent or by copying the
material's theme or idea rather than its expression.
It also said that determination of whether the Angelo dela Cruz footage is subject to
fair use is better left to the trial court where the proceedings are currently pending.