Darna and Intellectual Property Rights


Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have become a contentious issue given the debate on piracy. Previously, IPRs were considered tools to create innovative works. However, in the recent years, owners of the copyright, particularly corporations, have found out that licensing copyrighted characters is a lucrative business due to people’s familiarity with them. This study analyzes the implications of IPRs in the business and creative aspects of a popular Filipino superhero in the country — Mars Ravelo’s Darna — via a fan-created website, Branded’s merchandising and licensing of Darna shirts, and GMA’s serialization of Darna aired last April 2005. The study shows that today’s definition of IPRs restricts the creativity of those who reproduce the characters and prevents the “common” people from recreating, reinventing and reproducing materials using their own interpretation especially if they use copyrighted materials since they would need to ask permission, pay royalties, and go through corporations. In this regard, the democratic space that the Internet provides seems to be the last bastion of hope for those who really care about the true ideals of IPRs. However, this is also now in danger of being overtaken by corporations that will do everything to “protect” their interests.