A Last Word to We Are Collective

Don’t be surprised if someone comes to collect.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

Since we published our first article about the unauthorized use of copyrighted photos on the We Are Collective website, a number of things have happened.

Before 11 p.m. on March 7, the controversial website went dark.

The people behind the website and their supporters were quick to raise the alarm, and blame it on cyber-attacks and “Cyber Martial Law.”



Posted by Drei Toledo on Facebook on March 9, 2017

None of these allegations are true. The site has not been shut down because of cyber attacks, much less because of “Cyber Martial Law.” We’ve never even heard of anyone saying such a thing.

No one is being silenced because of your political affiliations nor even for your allegations. The website has been shut down because copyright infringement violates the terms and conditions of its host. Various copyright holders—ourselves included—have complained about our intellectual property rights being violated, and the host has taken down the site according to the law. Wix has said that it was enforcing the DMCA.

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This is the reason for the site’s disappearance; to say anything else would be a lie.

This is a simple and easily verifiable fact, and to hear it twisted into an outright lie so easily doesn’t help the Collective’s case for its credibility. Neither does the recent statement by the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF), which said that “The allegation that Jesse Robredo won the Magsaysay Award because of [Gabby Bordado’s] lobbying HAS NO BASIS IN FACTS.”

Now, if we can get personal for a minute, can we just say that this is exactly why we should respect the work of professionals? First of all, professional standards guide our work, so that the public can judge us for our content, without getting bogged down in side issues like copyright. (And, while lapses occur, at the very least professionals know how to make amends.)

Second, the issue of enforcing copyright isn’t a matter of selfishness. We take our intellectual property rights seriously because it’s what enables us to make an honest living. We regularly face accusations of being in someone’s pockets, of being biased for pay. Like yourselves, photographers, writers, and editors also need to make a living, and like most of you, we derive our living from honest sources of income: from professional fees, salaries, or royalties. And as long as we as a whole can protect these sources of income, the industry is also protected from dishonest forces seeking to buy our influence. We protect our copyright because we value our independence and our integrity, and our independence and integrity are what we offer to the democracy.

Lastly, you still have the right to free speech, for as long as we live in a democracy. You are still free to say whatever you want to say (within the limits of the law, of course; freedom of speech is not absolute), but now you have to do without admittedly stolen property.


And now a word from Derek Ramsay:

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