LISTED broadcast company GMA Network, Inc. announced on Monday that a Quezon City regional trial court had acquitted its two executives of copyright infringement charges filed by ABS-CBN Corp.

“The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 93 acquitted Grace Dela Peña-Reyes and John Oliver T. Manalastas, who were then GMA Network’s news operations head and news program manager, respectively,” the media company said in an e-mailed statement.

ABS-CBN filed a copyright infringement complaint against GMA in 2004 for the latter’s coverage of the homecoming of overseas worker and hostage victim Angelo dela Cruz that year.

“ABS-CBN allowed Reuters Television Service (Reuters) to air the footages it had taken earlier under a special embargo agreement,” the Court of Appeals said in its summary, as cited by the Supreme Court in a 2015 decision, where ABS-CBN’s petition to sue Ms. Dela Peña-Reyes and Mr. Manalastas was granted.

GMA said the complaint stemmed from the “alleged unauthorized and illegal use and broadcast of ABS-CBN’s footage.”

“In the Sept. 29, 2021 decision penned by Presiding Judge Arthur O. Malabaguio, the court sided with Dela Peña-Reyes and Manalastas, citing ‘the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt,’” GMA said.

“GMA’s use of the said footage was done under a valid subscription agreement with Reuters and CNN, which allows it to air and re-broadcast these video feeds,” GMA also said, citing Ms. Dela Peña-Reyes and Mr. Manalastas.

ABS-CBN was sought for comment through its head of corporate communications. — Arjay L. Balinbin