In the midst of disturbing developments, Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo is currently bent on criminalizing plagiarism. Two most recent events appear to precipitate this legislative course of action, one, the alleged plagiarism by a ponente in the Supreme Court and two, the country ‘branding’ where the Department of Tourism apparently copied that of Poland and elicited much negative public criticism.
“It is time to give more teeth to our existing intellectual properly laws by classifying plagiarism a criminal offense and not just a violation that is civil in nature”, the author points out.
“I am inclined to criminalize plagiarism contemplating in fact to impose severe penalties in the commission thereof especially when they are committed by lawyers, officers of the court, and worse, by justices of the Highest Tribunal”, the member of the House Committee on Justice strongly argues. According to Castelo and Aglipay, this does not in any way exempt the commission of the act by private individuals. “More or less, the same rule applies”, the author quips.
“In this country, we already have more than sufficient laws that would protect and promote intellectual property rights as these have been both enshrined in the 1973 as well as 1987 Constitutions. These are intended to give ‘exclusive right to invention, writings, and artistic creations by inventors, authors or artists’ in order to protect intellectual property”, the UP alumnus further explains.
Since Castelo thinks that plagiarism may be removed from the general ambit of intellectual property laws, he has in mind, inserting it in the Revised Penal Code thereby calibrating appropriate if not heavier penalties for the commission of such act. Depending on the gravity of offense, lawyers may be disbarred and will serve sentence such a reclusion perpetua, prision mayor or as the case may be.
“Plagiarists are like pirates in the open intellectual seas that they too must be arrested, jailed, and made to answer for the crimes they commit”, this the authors said hinting that “forgers, counterfeiters, fraudsters, and the like” must be meted out with extreme punishments. “Plagiarists must be jailed and shall likewise serve prison term which will be calibrated accordingly”, Castelo finally points out. For the author, it is high time to legislate this anti-plagiarism law.