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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Significance of Republic Act No. 8293
to Philippine Comic Book Creators


Being an Architect and a member of the United Archiect of the Philippines, the ongoing battle the San Pablo Chapter of the UAP has had over the implementation of our own law, the RA 9266, made me wish for a similar law that covered comic book creators that would guarantee the upliftment of the profession and protect us from exploitation.

Although there is no such law specifically for comics, the R.A. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code adequately covers the general concerns of the comic book professional in ways that have surprised and encouraged me.

Please feel free to download RA 8293 from the links below in either PDF or Text Format.



Please direct your attention to Part IV: The Law on Copyright, which appears on page 76 of the PDF version, as this is the section of the law which concerns comics creators as artists.

Important points to take note:

SEC. 172. Literary and Artistic Works. 172.1. Literary
and artistic works, hereinafter referred to as "works," are original
intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain protected
from the moment of their creation...

Which includes books, pamphlets, illustrations, works of drawing, painting and so on. Upon creation, who does the "works" belong to? It is answered here:

178.1. Subject to the provisions of this section, in the case
of original literary and artistic works, copyright shall belong to
the author of the work;

So, what is COPYRIGHT before anything else?

COPYRIGHT OR ECONOMIC RIGHTS consist of the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the following acts:

177.1. Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of
the work;
177.2. Dramatization, translation, adaptation,
abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;
177.3. The first public distribution of the original and each
copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;
177.4. Rental of the original or a copy of an audiovisual or
cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a
computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or
a musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of
the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental; (n)
177.5. Public display of the original or a copy of the work;
177.6. Public performance of the work; and
177.7. Other communication to the public of the work.

This basically tells you that all these things, like the right to reproduce, sell, rent, license, display and so on, are ALL owned by the author, meaning you.

So when your work is published in a magazine or newspaper, the law states...

180.3. The submission of a literary, photographic or
artistic work to a newspaper, magazine or periodical for publication
shall constitute only a license to make a single publication unless
a greater right is expressly granted.

Furthermore...

SEC. 174. Published Edition of Work. In addition to
the right to publish granted by the author, his heirs, or assigns,
the publisher shall have a copyright consisting merely of the right
of reproduction of the typographical arrangement of the published
edition of the work. (n)

It is clear here that the publisher's only right on the work is the right to reproduce such work exclusively for an agreed period of time. I believe the publisher does not have the right to own the work or part of it, unless the author agrees to it in writing, or the publisher is part of the creative process that produced the work.

With regard to commissioned work....

178.4. In the case of a work commissioned by a person
other than an employer of the author and who pays for it and the
work is made in pursuance of the commission, the person who so
commissioned the work shall have ownership of the work, but
the copyright thereto shall remain with the creator, unless there
is a written stipulation to the contrary;

I believe section 178.4 refers more to private commissions where the sale of the original art is included. In this case, even though you have sold that piece of art including original artwork, the copyright to use the image therein is still owned by you.

I'm still reading the law over more carefully, including the Implementing Rules and Regulations which is not included in the download (but is included in the printed book), just to getter a better grip on all the law offers us.

But what most important points I get from this law are:

1. Original Art is owned by the artist who created it, even though the work is paid for by a publisher. It is not the paper that the publisher is paying for, but only the right to use the image illustrated on that paper (or computer screen). If the publisher wishes to acquire the original art, then he would have to pay for it, on top of the page rate the artist is paid.

2. Copyright is guaranteed to the creator or creators of the work. The work being both the artwork and the story. It is unlawful for a publisher to demand co-ownership of the creation if it did not contribute creatively to story or character. However, the creator can temporarily transfer part of that copyright to the publisher, whose only right to it is to reproduce the work exclusively for a certain amount of time. The owner can however, consent to sell the copyright to his creation outright, as long as it is done in writing.

Now all of this and much more is contained in this law. Find out about it by downloading it and reading it. Take it to heart and use it to your advantage.

For those creators here in the Philippines doing work for abroad, specially the US, take note that our own Intellectual Property Code is based on the US model, as well as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works so they're bound to be very similar.

If your publisher demands from you rights that should belong to you as the creator, then you use this law to assert those rights.

I know some of you may be put on the spot by this as I'm aware of your respective terms with your publishers. It's up to you if you wish to use this law or not, but like I said, this law was never meant to make our lives difficult, but it is here to uplift our profession and make the work much more beneficial and advantageous to us.

I know that to assert this law would cost some of you jobs, but doing the right thing is not an easy road to take. Certainly there are difficulties, but things can only get better in the end.

God knows the enormous beatings we have had from engineers and local government officials when we tried to assert our new Architecture law, shaking up a status quo that had been in place for generations. Many of us lost projects, and we're still taking a beating right now. But those that stuck to it have benefited enormously in the end, and all of us in the Architecture profession will have a much stronger profession in the future.

I hope we can all take pride in our work as comic book creators. We are not people who write and draw "just" comics. We are Professionals creating works of literature and art. We can demand for our rights. It's ours to take.

November 23 Update! Click Below.
Seven Seas: Full Copyright to Creators
A startling follow up to the discussion to the discussions spawned by this article.