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  • Writer's pictureNick Redfearn

Litigating Philippines copyright disputes on social media?!

Filipino pop singer Shaira Moro shot to fame when her single “Selos” went viral over social media. Discerning listeners pointed out though that “Selos” is similar to, if not a direct copy of, Australian singer-songwriter Lenka’s hit 2008 song “Trouble is a friend.” [1] The backlash from the public prompted AHS Productions, the agency behind Shaira Moro, to voluntarily remove “Selos” from all online streaming platforms and secure a cover license over the song. 

Lenka’s team also took to social media to state that the issue has been brought to their attention and that they are already exploring their potential remedies. The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines chipped in, stating that foreign artists may file complaints with their office against local artists who may have infringed their copyright. Then news outlets reported that the Australian singer-songwriter has agreed to license to her music to Shaira. Negotiations between the two parties resulted in "Selos" returning to streaming platforms with Lenka credited as a composer. 

Sampling of foreign songs is not new on the Philippine music scene. One example is Filipino rock band Parokya ni Edgar’s hit song “The Ordertaker,” a single from their album “Halina sa Parokya” released in 2005, which sampled System of a Down’s “Toxicity” and “Chop Suey![2], both released in 2001. Parokya ni Edgar properly credited System of a Down as composer of “The Ordertaker.” Another example is the rap song “S2pidluv” released in 2002 by Filipino rap group Salbakuta, which sampled Barbara Streissand’s “Evergreen”. [3] Equally, foreign artists have also sampled Filipino songs in their music. An example is Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push” (2006) sampling Celeste Legazpi’s “Magtaksil Man Ikaw” (1980) [4]

It is interesting that the copyright issue in “Seloswas raised by the listening public. This is an indication of growing IP awareness among the public, although the term “plagiarism” was used and not copyright infringement. Similarly, in 2020, CJ Villavicencio, winner of the “Pop Stage” talent show was also called out for having “plagiarized” the arrangement of the Eraserheads song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” as used and arranged in the musical “Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical” (AHEB). The musical director of AHEB accused Villavicencio of copyright infringement. The public rallied behind the production team of AHEB and called out on social media Villavicencio’s infringing activity. In the same wise, the public referred to Villavicencio’s infringement as plagiarism.

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