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SC allows unaltered livestream of presidential, VP debates

BAGUIO CITY — The Supreme Court has ordered the head of the Commission on Elections to allow the livestreaming of the presidential and vice presidential debates for the May 2016 elections.

At a media briefing here, SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Thedore Te said that in a unanimous decision, the tribunal partially granted a petition filed by online news organization Rappler against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista.

The SC ordered Bautista to allow the debates to be streamed "unaltered" on Rappler and other websites "subject to the copyright condition that the source is clearly indicated."

In its decision, the high court said Rappler's demand to exercise the right to stream the debates is a contractual right of petitioner under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) it entered with the Comelec along with other media outfits.

The SC said Part VI (C), Par. 19 of the MOA expressly mandated the lead networks to "allow the debates they have produced to be shown or streamed on other websites" but "subject to copyright conditions or separate negotiatio?n with the lead networks."

The SC said the use of the word "or" means compliance with the "copyright conditions" is sufficient for petitioner to exercise its rig?ht to livestream the debates on its website.

The SC said in the case of the debates, the copyright conditions include:

  •  the reproduction or communication to the public by mass media of the debates is for information purposes;
  •  the debates have not been expressly reserved by the lead networks as the copyright holders; and
  •  the sources are clearly indicated.

The SC said Rappler has complied with the first condition because the streaming is obviously for information purposes. Condition 2 is also complied with because the MOA allows the debates to be shown or streamed on other websites. Condition 3, meanwhile, will be complied if Rappler clearly indicates and acknowledges that the source of the debate broadcast is one of more of the lead networks.

The SC said that "due to the time constraint, this Resolution is immediately executory." —JST, GMA News