Will a proposed amendment to the Filipino book laws be enough to kick-start digitisation of the publishing sector in a country of 79 million internet users?
Senator Lito Lapid’s Senate Bill No. 1881 seeks to amend the Book Publishing Industry Development Act and bring Filipino education into the twenty-first century.
The proposed amendment would require publishers who provide books for schools under the Public School Textbook Program, to permit scanning or full conversion of approved textbooks into “ebooks and other digital formats”.
In the Amendment’s introduction Lapid explains,
In the public school system, a yearly routine at the opening of classes is the distribution of textbooks to all elementary and secondary school students. It is likewise commonplace that such books are limited in number and, as a result, our students are forced to share or borrow from one another.
Lapid adds that the new learning modules introduced during lockdown were likewise insufficient to meet demand.
Similar to the textbook scenario pre-pandemic, the modules cannot be distributed in 1:1 ratio.
Lapid stressed that the proposed amendment mandates compliance with the provisions of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines in the implementation of the scanning or conversion of the materials.
The bill, if it takes effect, will help push a much-needed digital embrace by the Philippines publishing industry in a country of 79 million internet users – more than the UK or France.
The Philippines ebook market is estimated by Statista to be worth $123 million in 2020.