History of the Videogram Regulatory Board (VRB) and the Optical Media Board (OMB)

A. Beginnings of Piracy

Piracy of films and music in one form or another had existed since the technology for reproduction became easier and cheaper.

In the 1970’s, when the cassette became a popular musical format, it opened up a whole new market for portable music. Soon, tape recorders became cheap and easily accessible to the public, and while that increased the demand for products, it also brought with it the problem of pirated music cassettes.

In the mid-80’s, the Betamax became the first audiovisual playback device that allowed the public to record a show, and to make multiple copies of one show on a minimum of two videocassette recorders.

This soon brought about a trend in the Philippines. During Martial Law however, access to foreign materials was limited on the government-controlled media. There was a delay of several months before a movie could be seen in local theaters.

The phenomenon of video rental shops was born. Video rental shop owners would record programs from satellite feeds, make copies, and rent them out to the middle and upper classes. The facility of Filipinos in understanding the English language, coupled with colonial mentality, helped make the first video rental shops a haven for the entertainment-hungry public. In the beginning, video rental shops were not so harmful to the economy. But Betamax players soon became obsolete in other parts of the world, and were replaced by the video home system (VHS) tapes and laser discs. Nonetheless, they did not become obsolete in the Philippines. On the contrary, because of the obsolescence of the Betamax in other parts of the world, the price of Betamax players in the Philippines suddenly dropped and became very affordable. Its popularity therefore dramatically increased.

The movie industry started to feel the effects of film piracy as more and more families bought cheap beta machines and stayed home to watch movies before they were made available in the market.

The movie industry started to decline. At the same time, there was much public clamor about the lack of regulation of video shops and products and the disregard for censorship and copyright laws. In addition, Government was not collecting any taxes.

B. Presidential Decree No. 1987 On October 5, 1985