22 November 2021

Pursuant to the Copyright Act 2021 (Commencement) Notification 2021, the Copyright Act 2021 (“Act”) came into force on 21 November 2021, except for provisions relating mainly to the licensing of collective management organisations (“CMOs”) which will be implemented later, after further consultation next year. The Act strengthens the copyright regime in Singapore and is an updated version of the previous Copyright Act, which has since been repealed, with the aim of staying abreast of changes in how content is now created, distributed, and used. The Act restructures and rewords the legislation in plain English, to enhance its clarity and accessibility.

The Ministry of Law and Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) have jointly released a press release about the commencement of the Act.

Key changes  

Set out below is a summary of the key changes under the Act which are in force:

  • Granting authors and performers the right to be identified: The Act provides that anyone who uses authorial works or protected performances in public must identify the author or performer. While the Act provides for exceptions where identification is not needed, parties can also use contractual arrangements to manage their obligations to identify the author or performer. IPOS has made available an Annex on its website ipos.gov.sg which sets out examples of how identification of creators and performers can be done on social media platforms. 
  • Granting creators default ownership of certain commissioned works: The Act establishes that creators of all forms of commissioned works (e.g. photographs, portraits, engravings, sound recordings and films) will have default ownership of their works.  
  • Deterring people from profiting off products or services which stream audio-visual content from unauthorised sources: Commercial dealers in hardware devices, software applications and services that facilitate access to unauthorised content will face civil and criminal liability under the Act. The new provisions, which are technologically neutral, do not impose liability on consumers and users of the hardware devices, software applications or services. 
  • New permitted use of works and recordings of protected performances for computational data analysis: The Act allows the commercial/non-commercial use of works and recordings of protected performances for computational data analysis. 
  • New permitted use of internet materials for educational purposes by non-profit schools: The Act creates a new permitted use of internet materials, that are generally accessible to the public for free, for educational activities, including home-based teaching and learning conducted by non-profit educational institutions. There must be sufficient acknowledgement of the internet source and the work or performance used.
  • Adjusting existing provisions for users with print disabilities: Division 4 of Part 5 of the Act modifies the permitted uses relating to persons with print disabilities, to remove the obligation to pay fees to the rights owner when conversions are made and distributed. 

New class licensing scheme for CMOs (not in force) 

When the relevant provisions come into force later, the Act will create a new class licensing scheme that sets minimum standards for how CMOs should operate. The CMO class licensing scheme will be administered by IPOS and will address issues of transparency, governance, accountability and efficiency.

For more on the key changes in the Act, please refer to our articles titled “Copyright Bill to strengthen and update Singapore’s copyright regime passed” and “Copyright Bill introduced in Parliament to strengthen Singapore’s copyright regime”.

Reference materials

Subsidiary legislation

The following related subsidiary legislation, available on Singapore Statutes Online sso.agc.gov.sg, has been gazetted and took effect on 21 November 2021:

Copyright guides/factsheets

IPOS has made available on its website ipos.gov.sg the following copyright guides/factsheets for different contexts: