FACTS: Petitioners are authors and copyright owners of duly issued certificates of copyright registration covering their published works, produced through their combined resources and efforts, entitled COLLEGE ENGLISH FOR TODAY (CET for brevity), Books 1 and 2, and WORKBOOK FOR COLLEGE FRESHMAN ENGLISH, Series 1.

Respondent Felicidad Robles and Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. are the author/publisher and distributor/seller of another published work entitled “DEVELOPING ENGLISH PROFICIENCY” (DEP for brevity), Books 1 and 2 (1985 edition) which book was covered by copyrights issued to them.

In the course of revising their published works, petitioners scouted and looked around various bookstores to check on other textbooks dealing with the same subject matter. By chance they came upon the book of respondent Robles and upon perusal of said book they were surprised to see that the book was strikingly similar to the contents, scheme of presentation, illustrations and illustrative examples in their own book, CET. cdrep

After an itemized examination and comparison of the two books (CET and DEP), petitioners found that several pages of the respondent’s book are similar, if not all together a copy of petitioners’ book, which is a case of plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Petitioners then made demands for damages against respondents and also demanded that they cease and desist from further selling and distributing to the general public the infringed copies of respondent Robles’ works.

However, respondents ignored the demands, hence, on July 7, 1988, petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court, Makati, a complaint for “Infringement and/or unfair competition with damages” against private respondents.

In the complaint, petitioners alleged that in 1985, respondent Felicidad C. Robles being substantially familiar with the contents of petitioners’ works, and without securing their permission, lifted, copied, plagiarized and/or transposed certain portions of their book CET. The textual contents and illustrations of CET were literally reproduced in the book DEP. The plagiarism, incorporation and reproduction of particular portions of the book CET in the book DEP, without the authority or consent of petitioners, and the misrepresentations of respondent Robles that the same was her original work and concept adversely affected and substantially diminished the sale of the petitioners’ book and caused them actual damages by way of unrealized income.

Despite the demands of the petitioners for respondents to desist from committing further acts of infringement and for respondent to recall DEP from the market, respondents refused. Petitioners asked the court to order the submission of all copies of the book DEP, together with the molds, plates and films and other materials used in its printing destroyed, and for respondents to render an accounting of the proceeds of all sales and profits since the time of its publication and sale.

Respondent Robles was impleaded in the suit because she authored and directly committed the acts of infringement complained of, while respondent Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. was impleaded as the publisher and joint co-owner of the copyright certificates of registration covering the two books authored and caused to be published by respondent Robles with obvious connivance with one another.

On July 27, 1988, respondent Robles filed a motion for a bill of particulars which the trial court approved on August 17, 1988. Petitioners complied with the desired particularization, and furnished respondent Robles the specific portions, inclusive of pages and lines, of the published and copyrighted books of the petitioners which were transposed, lifted, copied and plagiarized and/or otherwise found their way into respondent’s book. Llcd

On August 1, 1988, respondent Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. filed its answer to the complaint and alleged that petitioners had no cause of action against Goodwill Trading Co., Inc. since it was not privy to the misrepresentation, plagiarism, incorporation and reproduction of the portions of the book of petitioners; that there was an agreement between Goodwill and the respondent Robles that Robles guaranteed Goodwill that the materials utilized in the manuscript were her own or that she had secured the necessary permission from contributors and sources; that the author assumed sole responsibility and held the publisher without any liability.

On November 28, 1988, respondent Robles filed her answer, and denied the allegations of plagiarism and copying that petitioners claimed. Respondent stressed that (1) the book DEP is the product of her independent researches, studies and experiences, and was not a copy of any existing valid copyrighted book; (2) DEP followed the scope and sequence or syllabus which are common to all English grammar writers as recommended by the Association of Philippine Colleges of Arts and Sciences (APCAS), so any similarity between the respondents book and that of the petitioners was due to the orientation of the authors to both works and standards and syllabus; and (3) the similarities may be due to the authors’ exercise of the “right to fair use of copyrighted materials, as guides.”

Respondent interposed a counterclaim for damages on the ground that bad faith and malice attended the filing of the complaint, because petitioner Habana was professionally jealous and the book DEP replaced CET as the official textbook of the graduate studies department of the Far Eastern University.


HELD: YES. Under Section 177. It provides for the copy or economic rights of an owner of a copyright as follows: “Sec. 177. Copy or Economic rights. — Subject to the provisions of chapter VIII, copyright or economic rights shall consist of the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the following acts: 177.1 Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work; 177.2 Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work; 177.3 The first public distribution of the original and each copy of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership; 177.4 Rental of the original or a copy of an audiovisual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or a musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental; (n) 177.5 Public display of the original or copy of the work; 177.6 Public performance of the work; and 177.7 Other communication to the public of the work.” The law also provided for the limitations on copyright, thus: “Sec. 184.1 Limitations on copyright. — Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter V, the following acts shall not constitute infringement of copyright: (a) the recitation or performance of a work, once it has been lawfully made accessible to the public, if done privately and free of charge or if made strictly for a charitable or religious institution or society; [Sec. 10(1), P.D. No. 49] (b) The making of quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified for the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries; Provided, that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work are mentioned; (Sec. 11 third par. P.D. 49) . . . (e) The inclusion of a work in a publication, broadcast, or other communication to the public, sound recording of film, if such inclusion is made by way of illustration for teaching purposes and is compatible with fair use: Provided, That the source and the name of the author, if appearing in the work is mentioned; In the above-quoted provisions, “work” has reference to literary and artistic creations and this includes books and other literary, scholarly and scientific works.

When is there a substantial reproduction of a book? It does not necessarily require that the entire copyrighted work, or even a large portion of it, be copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original work is substantially diminished, there is an infringement of copyright and to an injurious extent, the work is appropriated. In determining the question of infringement, the amount of matter copied from the copyrighted work is an important consideration. To constitute infringement, it is not necessary that the whole or even a large portion of the work shall have been copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original is sensibly diminished, or the labors of the original author are substantially and to an injurious extent appropriated by another, that is sufficient in point of law to constitute piracy. The essence of intellectual piracy should be essayed in conceptual terms in order to underscore its gravity by an appropriate understanding thereof. Infringement of a copyright is a trespass on a private domain owned and occupied by the owner of the copyright, and, therefore, protected by law, and infringement of copyright, or piracy, which is a synonymous term in this connection, consists in the doing by any person, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, of anything the sole right to do which is conferred by statute on the owner of the copyright.

In this jurisdiction under Sec. 184 of Republic Act 8293 it is provided that: Limitations on Copyright. Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter V, the following shall not constitute infringement of copyright: . . . (c) The making of quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified for the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries: Provided, That the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned. A copy of a piracy is an infringement of the original, and it is no defense that the pirate, in such cases, did not know whether or not he was infringing any copyright; he at least knew that what he was copying was not his, and he copied at his peril. DaAISH

In copyrighting books the purpose is to give protection to the intellectual product of an author. This is precisely what the law on copyright protected, under Section 184.1 (b). Quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified by the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries are allowed provided that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned.

On page 404 of petitioners’ Book 1 of College English for Today, the authors wrote:

Items in dates and addresses:

He died on Monday, April 15, 1975.

Miss Reyes lives in 214 Taft Avenue, Manila

On page 73 of respondents Book 1 Developing English Today, they wrote:

He died on Monday, April 25, 1975.

Miss Reyes address is 214 Taft Avenue Manila

On Page 250 of CET, there is this example on parallelism or repetition of sentence structures, thus:

“The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war; not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations; not peace to arise out of universal discord, fomented from principle, in all parts of the empire; not peace to depend on the juridical determination of perplexing questions, or the precise marking of the boundary of a complex government. It is simple peace; sought in its natural course, and in its ordinary haunts. It is peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely pacific.

— Edmund Burke, “Speech on Criticism.”

On page 100 of the book DEP, also in the topic of parallel structure and repetition, the same example is found in toto. The only difference is that petitioners acknowledged the author Edmund Burke, and respondents did not.

In several other pages the treatment and manner of presentation of the topics of DEP are similar if not a rehash of that contained in CET.

We believe that respondent Robles’ act of lifting from the book of petitioners substantial portions of discussions and examples, and her failure to acknowledge the same in her book is an infringement of petitioners’ copyrights.

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