No Surprises Here: "CTTO" May Actually Be Illegal, Reminds IPOPHL

Always cite your sources...properly.

PHOTO BY War Espejo

( In our research and composition classes, we were taught to always cite our sources. We got footnotes and endnotes, MLA and APA formats, and multiple pages for the bibliography. Every illustration is acknowledged and every paraphrased sentence is credited. But, for some reason, things change when it comes to social media platforms such as Facebook, where the common form of citation has become "CTTO" (a.k.a. credits to the owner).

In a Teleradyo interview with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines director-general Rowel Barba on June 6, he clarified that social media users should refrain from posting literary or artistic works without permission from their creator. And more importantly, without properly crediting the original photographer, artist, or writer—"CTTO," "credits to the owner," and "photo not mine," are not included.

Why should you cite your sources?

"Using CTTO does not excuse 'yung kumopya o gumamit noon. Dapat kukunin niya 'yong permiso bago niya ilalathala o gagamitin yung orihinal na content," he added.


According to Federis, a law firm specializing in enforcing intellectual property as well as facilitating trademark and patent applications, "original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain are copyrightable." Copyright refers to the collection of all rights enjoyed by the owner of an artistic or literary work. This may include, but is not limited to, books, pamphlets, articles, periodicals, newspapers, letters, drawings, paintings, illustrations, photographs, and more. If you're a writer or artist, you don't have to register your literary or artistic work for it to have copyright as "copyrightable works are protected from the moment of their creation," Federis' FAQ page added.

The Intellectual Property of the Philippines (IPOPHL) in 2019 also came out with a primer on "fair use," which permits the use of copyrighted material without having to ask for permission from the copyright holder. But this has restrictions based on the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

Section 12, which defines the Fair Use of a Copyrighted Work, says: "The fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including limited number of copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright. Decompilation, which is understood here to be the reproduction of the code and translation of the forms of a computer program to achieve the interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs may also constitute fair use under the criteria established by this section, to the extent that such decompilation is done for the purpose of obtaining the information necessary to achieve such interoperability."

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IPOPHL clarified this clause through real-life situations, as quoted below:

  • If you performed your favorite Aegis classic for your family last Christmas and didn’t charge them a fee to hear you sing, that’s fair use.
  • If you’re delivering a keynote address to fellow dignitaries and borrowed the quote of your favorite philosopher or author, that’s fair use—so long as you credit the original creator whether in the written speech or in the delivery.

They also pointed out that instances that may be considered under fair use are accepted as long as "the original work is cited or imitated for personal use or education." Citing your sources is always important.

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