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 has proliferated from the time technology for reproduction became easily accessible to the public.
In the 1970’s, when the cassette became a popular musical format, it opened up a whole new market for portable music. Soon, as the demand for products skyrocketed, so did the demand for tape recorders, which eventually became cheap and openly available to the market leading to the problem of pirated music cassettes.
In the mid-80’s, the Betamax became the first audio-visual 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 theatres.
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. 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.
This brought about the creation of the Videogram Regulatory Board (VRB), which was the government regulatory agency mandated to protect not only the copyrights of the various film & music producers, but also functioned as a classification and ratings entity.
In as much as the VRB was an effective deterrent on piracy in magnetic media format, the government unfortunately could not keep up with the rapid pace of technology, which quickly introduced optical media to the consuming public. The proliferation of this type of media brought about an easier and faster way of piracy, and soon the Optical Media Board (OMB) was created by Congress through R.A. 9239 to address this menace.
The Republic Act No. 9239 is an act regulating optical media, reorganizing for this purpose the VRB, providing penalties therefore, and for other purposes. This Act is known as the Optical Media Act of 2003.
B. The Optical Media Board
The Optical Media Board (OMB), under the direct supervision of the Office of the President, was created pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9239 known as the Optical Media Act of 2003. The coverage of authority is the entire territory of the Republic of the Philippines including the economic zones as defined both under R.A. Nos. 9239 and 7916.
The act is governed by laws established to regulate activities such as mastering, manufacture, replication, importation and exportation of optical and magnetic media.
“An Economy that is FREE from Digital Piracy Where there is a Level Playing Field for All Legitimate Players.”
“To Protect & Promote Intellectual Property Rights in Digital Form.”
The Optical Media Board (OMB) regulates the mastering, manufacturing, importation and exportation of optical media products and manufacturing materials as part of ensuring the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights.
In line with its mandate as one of the anti-piracy agencies in the Philippines, the OMB performs regulatory functions through the exercise of its enforcement and quasi-judicial powers that facilitate the apprehension and eventual prosecution of violators of RA 9239.
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