JUNE 30, 2012


TO: Atty. Leon Ignacio FROM: Anne Wilson DATE: June 28, 2012

Question Presented Whether or not John Cage’s creation copyrightable under Philippine laws?

Brief Answer No. Cage’s piece, being an expression of art, is not copyrightable because it is not included in the works within the meaning of the law.

Statement of the Facts John Cage composed 4’33”, a piece of complete silence in stereo. It is a threemovement musical composition made entirely of rests. After five decades, musician Mike Batt released an album wherein one of the tracks was completely silent.

dissertations prepared for oral delivery. Literary and artistic works. (d) Letters. are original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain protected from the moment of their creation and shall include in particular: (a) Books. hereinafter referred to as "works". with or without words. sermons. . However. (e) Dramatic or dramatico-musical compositions. . (f) Musical compositions. addresses. pamphlets.172.1. whether or not reduced in writing or other material form. Literary and Artistic Works. Discussion John Cage’s creation is not copyrightable under the Philippine law. (b) Periodicals and newspapers. parties agreed to settle the issue by Batt paying a certain sum of money. (c) Lectures. to wit: Section 172. choreographic works or entertainment in dumb shows. articles and other writings. under Section 172 of Republic Act 8293 also known as the Intellectual Property Code. because it does not fall.Cage’s publisher contacted Batt allegedly to sue the latter for infringement of copyright. specifically.

(j) Drawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical character. sketches. Only then can works be considered . irrespective of their mode or form of expression. maps. quality and purpose. architecture. (h) Original ornamental designs or models for articles of manufacture. Works can only be copyrightable if it falls under the enumeration stated above and if it is an idea that can be expressed. models or designs for works of art. lantern slides. (k) Photographic works including works produced by a process analogous to photography. 172. lithography or other works of art. and other works of applied art. scholarly. whether or not registrable as an industrial design. (n) Computer programs. (m) Pictorial illustrations and advertisements. scientific and artistic works. architecture or science. and (o) Other literary.2. painting.(g) Works of drawing. sculpture. plans. (i) Illustrations. (l) Audiovisual works and cinematographic works and works produced by a process analogous to cinematography or any process for making audiovisual recordings. as well as of their content. engraving. topography. charts and three-dimensional works relative to geography. Works are protected by the sole fact of their creation.

Therefore. Mr. . Cage’s masterpiece is not copyrightable under Philippine law. Furthermore. Batt can freely make his own piece of silence without infringing any copyrights. the audience of the 4’33” piece can have different interpretations to the silence they are experiencing since John Cage did not express explicitly the meaning of that silence to himself. Cage’s piece is an idea that cannot be expressed. Mere silence does not express an idea because it is common to everyone. Hence.copyrightable and can be protected by the law automatically from the moment of its creation.

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