Appeals court backs Baguio bar owners in case against Filscap

May 25, 2017 - 8:03 AM
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Restaurateur Carlos Anton and lawyer Lauro Gacayan show a copy of the Court of Appeal decision absolving Anton's Anrey Inc. from infringement of copyrights filed against them by the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (Photo by Aldwin Quitasol via InterAksyon)

BAGUIO CITY | Bar owners in Baguio City have not been paying any royalties to the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (Filscap) for some time, and now they have a court ruling to back up their defiance.

“Sinabi nila na dapat magbayad kami ng IPR (intellectual property rights) pero hindi namin pinapansin,” (They told us to pay for IPR but we did not entertain it) said Allan Bandoy, president of Baguio City Association of Bars and Entertainers (Babes).

Bandoy made the statement on Wednesday in a press conference following a decision by the Court of Appeals, 4th Division absolving a Babes member from infringement of copyright for playing music and songs aired over a local radio station.

This decision affirmed an earlier decision by the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 in Baguio City declaring Anrey Inc., which operates Sizzling Plate restaurants in the city, not guilty of infringement.

Restaurateur Carlos Anton of Anrey Inc., said he was pleased with the decision as he considered the collection of royalty fees by Filscap too exorbitant for small businesses. The case began in 2009 when Filscap accused Anrey Inc. of infringement after one Filscap agent visited a Sizzling Plate restaurant and noted that it was playing music from a radio station. Filscap demanded royalty fees of P6,300 a year per restaurant, which amounted to a total of P18,900 for three branches of Sizzling Plate.

Anrey Inc. refused to pay. Filscap sued the company demanding a payment of more or less P500, 000 as nominal damages, and attorney’s fees. The court ruled that the company did not commit infringement upon the copyright law as they did not charge any admission fee prior to the playing of songs through the radio and did not collect additional charges from its costumers for such.

Since then, Bandoy had told Babes members not to pay any royalties to Filscap. He said Filscap called for a meeting with the bar owners a year ago but no one attended.

Filscap is the holder of deeds of assignment to collect royalties on behalf of Filipino artists and is authorized by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).