Ministry of Law to introduce new laws on copyright and commissioned work

Creators will be given a new right to be attributed as the creator of the works regardless of whether they still own the copyright.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will amend the Copyright Act in its effort to update Singapore’s copyright regime to better support creators and the use of creative works in an increasingly digital environment, an announcement revealed.

The proposed changes which were outlined by MinLaw and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) in the Singapore Copyright Review report will include a new right of attribution for creators regardless of whether or not they still own the copyrights.

“For example, anyone using a work publicly, such as posting it on the internet, will have to acknowledge the creator of the work,” MinLaw explained in a statement. “This will accord creators due recognition and allow them to build their reputation over time.”

Also read: Why intellectual property rights are key for Singapore's economic future

Likewise, a default ownership of commissioned works will be introduced wherein creators will immediately own the copyright in all works including photographs, sound recordings and films they are commissioned to create unless they agree otherwise in writing. This is to provide creators who do not understand the law in situations where there are no contracts dealing with copyright ownership.

With regards to the duration of protection for photographs, films and sound recordings, the copyright laws will be held until either 70 years after the work was created if it is unpublished or published more than 50 years after it was created, or 70 years after its first publication. For literary, musical, dramatic works and engravings, the copyright will expire 70 years after the death of the author.

Meanwhile, the report also proposes new enforcement measures to deter retailers and service providers from profiting off illegal streaming and illicit streaming devices to further protect copyright owners.

“New legislative provisions will be introduced to impose civil and criminal liability on people wo, for a fee, provide a service to enable devices to access content from unauthorised sources such as the provision of website links, instructions or installation of subscription services,” the agencies stated in its report.

Also read: Singapore inks intellectual property deal with Russia

On the other hand, the report also proposed introducing new exceptions to facilitate the use of copyrighted material for purposes that are of public interest with appropriate safeguards, such as education and analysis.

According to the agencies, non-profit schools and its students will be able to use online resources that are accessible without payment for instruction purposes. “Teachers and students will be able to use various audio-visual materials found online for their classroom lessons and project presentations,” the agencies said. “They will also be able to share those materials, or lessons and project presentations which have included those materials, on student learning portals for other schools to view.”

Additionally, a new exception for text and data mining for the purpose of analysis was proposed given that such data is often used to generate consumer insights for enhanced product development, although it is usually carried out with copyright infringement risks. The new exception will allow data mining on the basis that the user will have lawful access to the materials that are copied to governance and accountabiluty whilst opening up new business opportunities and reducing costs. 

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