26 February 2021

On 22 February 2021, the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) published on its website www.mlaw.gov.sg the second part of the public consultation relating to the draft Copyright Bill (“draft Bill”) to seek views on legislative provisions concerning the regulation of collective management organisations (“CMOs”) and proposals to streamline provisions on Copyright Tribunals.

MinLaw and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) launched the first part of the public consultation on 5 February 2021 to seek views on whether the draft Bill will appropriately implement recommendations previously raised for public consultation in 2016 and published in the Singapore Copyright Review Report in 2019, and whether the revised language in the draft Bill will make the legislation more easily understood. We covered this in “MinLaw and IPOS consult on draft Copyright Bill to enhance clarity and accessibility of copyright regime”.

The closing date to respond to both parts of the public consultation is 1 April 2021.

Enhancing the collective rights management landscape

A class licensing scheme to regulate CMOs was recommended in the Singapore Copyright Review Report in 2019. In 2020, a further public consultation was conducted on the areas to be regulated under the proposed scheme (“2020 public consultation”). We covered this in “MinLaw and IPOS consult on proposed licensing scheme for collective management organisations in Singapore”.

The draft Bill provides for the regulation of CMOs, and the feedback gathered from the 2020 public consultation will be taken into account when formulating the specific terms and conditions of the licensing scheme in subsidiary legislation. There will be a further consultation on the specific terms and conditions in due course.

Part 9 of the draft Bill sets out the provisions relating to the regulation of CMOs by way of the proposed class licensing scheme. MinLaw is empowered to establish a class licence for all CMOs or class licences for different classes of CMOs, and to prescribe or alter the conditions of a class licence. Any entity that carries out collective management activities as a CMO (as defined under Clause 428A of the draft Bill) will be automatically subject to, and has to comply with, the terms and conditions of the scheme.

IPOS shall be the administering authority of the scheme and have powers to, among other things, issue written regulatory directions to a CMO or any officer of a CMO, impose fines for breaches of licence conditions, and issue cessation orders.

It will be a criminal offence for a person to carry on business as a CMO without a licence or while under a cessation order. It is also an offence for a person to fail to comply with a written regulatory direction issued by IPOS or knowingly do anything that prevents or impedes compliance with any such direction.

A person (including a CMO) may apply to IPOS to reconsider the fines, orders and regulatory directions IPOS has made against the person, and IPOS will confirm, vary or set aside the decision. In the case of a fine, order or specified regulatory directions, the person may additionally appeal to MinLaw against a decision of IPOS on the reconsideration request. The manner in which these processes are to be carried out and the relevant time limits will be prescribed.

Provisions on Copyright Tribunals 

The draft Bill streamlines provisions relating to Copyright Tribunals by, for example, moving provisions relating to processes to subsidiary legislation and omitting redundant provisions. Under the draft Bill the President of the Copyright Tribunals may issue practice directions relating to the processes in the Copyright Tribunals, such as the forms, manner of filing of applications, modes of service of documents, and modes of payment of fees.

The 2020 public consultation also sought feedback on enhancing the effectiveness of Copyright Tribunal proceedings as a mechanism for resolving licensing disputes between CMOs and users. The feedback received suggested that a more holistic review of the role, procedures and practices of the Copyright Tribunals would be preferable, and to that end, MinLaw and IPOS will separately undertake this review in due course.

Commencement date

The new Copyright Act is expected to be passed in the third quarter of 2021. The whole Act, with the exception of the provisions on CMOs, is expected to commence one month thereafter. The latter will commence on a later date that will be announced subsequently, following further consultations on the regulations for the proposed class licensing scheme.

Reference materials

The following materials can be found on the MinLaw website www.mlaw.gov.sg: