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GR 166337; March 7, 2005

Bayanihan Music v BMG Records and Jose Mari Chan


Facts:
Chan entered into a contract with Bayanihan, assigning all his rights,
interests and participation to Bayanihan for his song Can We Just Stop and Talk a
While and after that, for the song Afraid for Love to Fade. On the basis of such
assignment, Bayanihan applied for and was granted by the National Library a
Certificate of Copyright Registration for each of the 2 musical compositions. Chan
authorized BMG Records to record and distribute both compositions in a then
recently released album of Lea Salonga without the knowledge of Bayanihan.
Bayanihan informed Chan and BMG of its existing copyrights over the songs and the
alleged violation of such rights by the respondents, demanding to settle the matter
but no settlement was made.
Bayanihan filed before the Quezon City RTC a complaint against Chan and
BMG for violation of Sec. 216, RA 8293parying for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ
of preliminary injunction enjoining BMG from further recording an distributing the
subject musical compositions in whatever form or musical products, and Chan from
further granting any authority to record and distribute the same musical
compositions.
BMG countered that the acts of recording and publication has been done and
a TRO or injunction would be moot and that there is no clear showing that
Bayanihan will be greatly damaged by the refusal of the prayer for TRO/injunction.
BMG also pleaded a cross-claim against Chan for violation of his warranty that his
compositions are free from claims of third persons and counterclaim for damages
against Bayanihan.
Chan alleged that he never intended to divest himself of all his rights and interest
over the musical composition; that the contracts entered into with Bayanihan were
mere music publications giving Bayanihan as Assignees, the power to administer
his copyright over his 2 songs and act as the exclusive publisher; that he was not
cognizant of application and grant of copyright certification over his 2 songs to
Bayanihan; and that Bayanihan was remiss of its obligations under the contract
because it failed to effectively advertise the songs for almost 20 years. Hence, the
rescission of the contracts in 1997. Chan also filed a counterclaim for damages
against Bayanihan. RTC denied the TRO as well as the injunction. CA affirmed RTC
ruling.
Issue: When is the creator entitled to copyright protection?
Ruling:
Unquestionably, Chan being the composer and author of the lyrics of the 2
songs is protected by the mere fact alone that he is the creator thereof,
conformably with RA 8293, Sec. 172.2: Works are protected by the sole fact of their
creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as of their content
and quality and purpose.
Also, as provided in the contracts Chan entered into with Bayanihan was the
agreement that in the event the publisher fails to use in any manner within 2 years
any of the compositions covered by the contract, the composition may be released
in favor of the writer and excluded from the contract. The publisher shall execute
the necessary release in writing in favor of the writer upon the request of the writer.

It appears that the 2 contracts already expired, there being no allegation or proof
that Bayanihan ever made use of the compositions within the 20year period agreed
upon.
Anent the copyrights obtained on the basis of the contracts, suffice it to say
that such purported copyrights are not presumed to subsist in accordance with Sec.
218, RA 8293 because Chan had put in issue the existence thereof.