Legal Bulletin September 2016

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Published date: 29 Sep 2016

IPOS and MinLaw jointly consult on proposed changes to Singapore’s copyright regime

Between 23 August 2016 and 24 October 2016, the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS) are jointly conducting a public consultation to gather public feedback on proposed changes to Singapore’s copyright regime.
Copyright law must keep pace with modern developments so as to support creativity and innovation. This review seeks to ensure that Singapore’s copyright regime continues to provide an environment that benefits both creators and users by ensuring rights that are reasonable, clear and capable of being efficiently transacted.
Summary of key proposed changes to the Copyright Act
The proposed changes may affect creators, producers and users to different extents. Set out below are the key proposed changes to the Copyright Act:
·         Copyright registry: Currently, copyright protection over works arises automatically once the work has been created into physical form (analogue or digital) without the need for registration. IPOS and MinLaw are considering the feasibility of setting up a voluntary system of copyright registration in Singapore. It is proposed that the registry should allow any assignments, licences and security interests of the rights to be recorded together with the copyright work so as to allow for more clarity in tracing copyright ownership for copyright users.
·         Ownership of commissioned works: In a “commissioning situation”, the person who paid for the creation of certain types of works such as photos, portraits and engravings would be the copyright owner instead of the actual creator of the work. To prevent unsuspecting creators from unknowingly giving up their copyright, it is proposed that creators of such works have first ownership of the copyright over the works created. IPOS and MinLaw are also considering a similar review in relation to sound recordings and cinematograph films.
·         Right of attribution: There is a proposal to create a new right of attribution which will enable creators to be credited as the “author” of a work regardless of whether they still own the copyright.
·         Exceptions that cannot be restricted by contract: It is common for End User Licence Agreements (“EULA”) or website terms and conditions to provide that the user waives any copyright exceptions available to them. It is proposed that the application of certain exceptions cannot be restricted by contract.
·         “Orphan works”: A copyrighted “orphan work” is a creative work protected by copyright where the copyright owner is unknown. IPOS and MinLaw propose for an exception under the Copyright Act which allows for the use of such works if the owner cannot be identified or contacted for consent.
·         Text and data mining: As Singapore pushes forward with its Smart Nation initiative, a proposal has been put forth to allow for text and data mining of copyrighted works for the purposes of data analysis to be included as an exception in the Copyright Act.
·         Educational uses: IPOS and MinLaw propose to create a new copyright purpose-based exception for not-for-profit educational institutions.
·         Allowed circumventions of technological protection measures (“TPMs”): TPMs are akin to digital locks intended to restrict the access or use of copyrighted works. Currently, the Copyright Act generally prohibits users from circumventing TPMs but there is a list of exceptions where circumvention is allowed. The general principle for allowing an exception is when the TPMs can be considered to adversely impair legitimate non-infringing uses which are generally beneficial to the public and not piracy-related. IPOS and MinLaw seek to review the current list of exceptions.
In addition to the above, there are also other proposals relating to, for example, duration of protection for unpublished works, factors used in determining “fair use”, and new exceptions for museums and galleries, materials on official government registers and non-patent literature.
Reference materials
The following materials are available from the MinLaw website
·         Consultation paper
·         Press release
For further information, please contact:
+65 6890 7883
+65 6890 7520
+65 6890 7568

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