Acknowledging owners of photos, text with ‘CTTO’ may still be illegal

May 8, 2019 - 2:30 PM
Credits to the owner_Interaksyon
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines reminded the public to properly attribute their photos and posts every time. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

A government agency reminded the public to properly cite the sources of literary and artistic works they share online amid a growing trend of using “CTTO” or “credits to the owner” in captions of social media posts.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) shared that using “CTTO,” “photo not mine,” “photo from Google” and other similar captions are not the proper way to attribute works, especially on the internet.


“When using or sharing a literary and artistic work from someone else, always ask permission from the owner before using their works,” the government agency said.

“If granted permission to use, mention the owner’s full name and the site where you got it from,” IPOPHL continued.

Even organizations, however, are prone to such practices.

A local media outlet, for example, was seen attributing a viral photo using the acronym while skipping a mention of the owner of the content.

A screenshot of Manila Bulletin’s Facebook post taken on May 8, 2019 that was originally uploaded by ‘MBites,’ a section of the media outlet dedicated to food and dining. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

A reverse image search on Google traces the photo to Twitter user named Julie Ann Celi.

It is not certain, however, whether she was the one who actually took the photo or simply grabbed it from the internet without crediting the source.

There are some Facebook users who claimed that using “CTTO” is a supposed “acknowledgment” that the individual does not really know who originally took the photo or created the artwork, especially if it has already gone viral and reshared thousands of times.

“You can’t cite sources when you don’t know the actual owner of the photo when it has gone viral. Also, the mere fact that one says CTTO is at least an acknowledgment that one isn’t claiming that he took the photo,” a certain Facebook user wrote.

Another user argued that this is where the issue of “fair use” comes in.

Fair use of a material 

Fair use is when the intellectual property or copyrighted material is “cited or imitated for personal use and education,” according to IPOPHL. This is where cases of source attribution is not necessary.

According to Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, fair use of a copyrighted material is when it is used for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including limited number of copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes.”

Works that are considered intellectual property include books and other writings, musical works, films, paintings and other visual arts, architectural designs, computer programs, and other literary and artistic works.

“If you performed your favorite Aegis classic for your family last Christmas, and didn’t charge them a fee to hear you sing, that’s fair use,” the government agency said.

“If you’re delivering a keynote address to fellow dignitaries and borrowed the quote of your favorite philosopher or author, that’s fair use — so long as you credit the original creator whether in the written speech or in the delivery,” IPOPHL added.

To determine whether fair use is practiced upon sharing or using the material, RA 8293 states that such factors must be considered:

(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.

“Few situations in real life point to a black-and-white scenario for fair use but the balance of the right-holder and the user, is at the heart of the matter,” IPOPHL said. — Artwork by Interaksyon/Uela Altar-Badayos