PETITIONERS: Pacita Habana, Alicia Cinco, and Jovita Fernando are the authors and copyright owners of the books COLLEGE ENGLISH FOR TODAY (CET) Books 1 and 2, and WORKBOOK FOR COLLEGE FRESHMAN ENGLISH, SERIES 1.
RESPONDENTS: Felicidad Robles and Goodwill Trading Co. are the author/publisher and copyright owners of the books DEVELOPING ENGLISH PROFICIENCY (DEP) Books 1 and 2.
CET and DEP have striking similarities. Petitioners found it a case of plagiarism and copyright infringement. A cease and desist demand was given to Respondents but the latter ignored. Petitioners filed a complaint for Infringement and/or Unfair Competition with damages.
GOODWILL: In its answer, alleged that petitioners had no cause of action because it was not privy to the misrepresentation, plagiarism of the book of petitioners; and that Robles guaranteed Goodwill that the materials in the manuscript were of her own.
ROBLES: Denied allegations and claimed that the book DEP is a product of her own research, and that DEP followed a scope, sequence and syllabus that is common to all English Grammar books, and that any similarities is due to the author’s exercise of “fair use” as guide materials.
RTC: dismissed the case and ordered petitioners to pay for the attorney’s fees of the respondents.
PETITIONERS: Filed a notice of appeal to the RTC.
CA: Affirmed the CA but was in the view that award of attorney’s fees was not proper as there was no bad faith on petitioners in instituting the action.
PETITIONERS: Filed an MR, which the CA denied. Petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari on review to set aside the CA decision and resolution denying MR.
(1) whether or not, despite the apparent textual, thematic and sequential similarity between DEP and CET, respondents committed no copyright infringement;
(2) whether or not there was animus furandi on the part of respondent when they refused to withdraw the copies of CET from the market despite notice to withdraw the same; and
(3) whether or not respondent Robles abused a writer’s right to fair use, in violation of Section 11 of Presidential Decree No. 49.
1. NO. There was copyright infringement. 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 works of Habana and Robles have striking similarities, up to the point where the examples used are basically the same. (Items in dates and addresses: He died on Monday, April 15, 1975. Miss Reyes lives in 214 Taft Avenue, Manila)
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.
In the case at bar, there is no question that petitioners presented several pages of the books CET and DEP that more or less had the same contents. It may be correct that the books being grammar books may contain materials similar as to some technical contents with other grammar books, such as the segment about the “Author Card”. However, the numerous pages that the petitioners presented showing similarity in the style and the manner the books were presented and the identical examples cannot pass as similarities merely because of technical consideration.
2. YES. The SC considers as indicia of guilt or wrongdoing the act of respondent Robles of pulling out from Goodwill bookstores the book DEP upon learning of petitioners’ complaint while pharisaically denying petitioners’ demand. It was further noted that when the book DEP was re-issued as a revised version, all the pages cited by petitioners to contain portion of their book College English for Today were eliminated.
3. YES. The law provides that: “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.” In Robles’ book, DEP, Authors were not acknowledged nor credited. The same block of text from from Edmund Burke’s book “Speech on Criticism” is within both CET and DEP, with the exception that Edmund Burke was credited in CET and in DEP he was not. The SC believes 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.