Singapore Copyright Review – Enhancing Creators’ Rights and Users’ Access to Copyrighted Works
1. The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will amend the Copyright Act to update Singapore’s copyright regime to better support creators and the use and enjoyment of creative works in the digital age. The proposed changes include better recognising creators for their work, allowing easier access to copyrighted materials for educational purposes and supporting creators and users in the collective licensing of copyrighted works. These changes are outlined in the Singapore Copyright Review Report released by MinLaw and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) today. The full report can be found in Annex A.
2. The proposed changes are made, following an extensive three-year review and two rounds of public consultations conducted from August to November 2016 and May to June 2017 respectively. Three public Town Halls and ten engagement sessions with various stakeholder groups, including consumer, industry and trade associations, businesses, intellectual property practitioners and academics were held. Close to 100 formal submissions and more than 280 online feedback forms were received. The feedback was valuable in both scope and depth and MinLaw and IPOS thank all respondents for their views. The 2016 and 2017 public consultation documents can be found in Annexes B and C respectively.
Enhancing creators’ rights
3. The Singapore Copyright Review Report contains various proposals to enhance the rights of creators, to help them build their reputation and grow their business.
a. New right of attribution. First, the report proposes that creators be given a new right to be attributed as the creator of their work, regardless of whether they still own or have sold the copyright. For example, anyone using a work publicly, such as posting it on the internet, will have to acknowledge the creator of the work. This will accord creators due recognition and allow them to build their reputation over time. Currently, they do not need to be attributed as the creator of their work when others use it.
b. Default ownership of commissioned works. Second, the report proposes that by default, creators will generally own the copyright in all works, including photographs, sound recordings and films, that they are commissioned to create unless they agree otherwise in writing. This protects unknowing creators, who may not understand the law, in less ideal scenarios where there are no contracts dealing with copyright ownership. Currently, a commissioning party owns the copyright of certain works it commissioned.
c. New enforcement measures. Third, the report proposes that new enforcement measures be made available to copyright owners to deter retailers and service providers from profiting off providing access to content from unauthorised sources, such as through the sale of set-top boxes that enable access to content from unauthorised sources, also commonly known as grey boxes or illicit streaming devices. The measures, which are absent today, will make clear that acts such as the import and sale of such devices are prohibited.
Improving users’ access to copyrighted materials
4. The Singapore Copyright Review Report also proposes introducing new exceptions to facilitate the use of copyrighted materials for certain purposes that are of important public interest, with appropriate safeguards.
a. Enhanced exception for use for educational purposes. Non-profit schools and their students will be able to use online resources that are accessible without payment, for instruction purposes. This will be in addition to their existing exceptions which generally cover only copying of a portion of a work. The enhancement will facilitate instruction and make it easier for teachers and students to use online materials in classes. For example, teachers and students will be able to use various audio-visual materials (e.g. videos, pictures) found online for their classroom lessons and project presentations. 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. Online resources that require payment will not be covered by this exception.
b. New exception for text and data mining for the purpose of analysis. Today, people who use automated techniques to analyse text, data and other content to generate insights risk infringing copyright as they typically require large scale copying of works without permission. It is proposed that a new exception be established to allow copying of copyrighted materials for the purpose of data analysis, where the user has lawful access to the materials that are copied. This will promote applications of data analytics and big data across a gamut of industries, unlocking new business opportunities, speeding up processes, and reducing costs for all.
Aiding creators and users in the collective licensing of copyrighted works
5. New class licensing scheme for CMOs. To support creators and users in the collective licensing of copyrighted works, the report proposes to introduce a class licensing scheme for collective management organisations (CMOs), which are unregulated today. The new scheme will help ensure that CMOs operate with high standards of transparency, governance and accountability, and are able to facilitate copyright licensing transactions efficiently. Any entity that carries out collective licensing activities in Singapore will be automatically subject to this scheme which will be administered by IPOS. Further details on the licensing scheme and licence conditions will be announced subsequently, and another public consultation will be conducted on this.
6. Other changes proposed in the report include providing clarity on situations when copyright exceptions would not be restricted by contractual terms, setting an expiry date for the protection of unpublished works, and new exceptions for galleries, libraries, archives and museums.