SG Ministry of Law proposes revision to Copyright Act for creators with new bill

The Ministry of Law has proposed a repeal of the current Copyright Act with the new Copyright Bill to strengthen the copyright laws in Singapore in an attempt to "stay abreast of changes in how content is created, distributed, and used”. It seeks to make the law more accessible by simplifying the language and key features of the new bill include introducing new rights and remedies for creators, as well as creating new exceptions to copyright owners’ rights (known as permitted uses).

This is to ensure that copyright continues to reward the creation of works and incentivise creativity and that copyright works are reasonably available for the benefit of society and to support innovation respectively, said the Ministry in a press release statement on its website.

The new bill revises some of the clauses in the Copyright Act. The proposed revisions are:

  • Granting creators and performers the right to be identified
  • Granting creators default ownership of certain commissioned works
  • Deterring people from profiting off products or services which stream audiovisual content from unauthorised sources
  • New equitable remuneration rights when sound recordings are broadcasted or publicly performed
  • New permitted use of works for computational data analysis
  • New permitted use of online materials for educational purposes by nonprofit schools
  • Setting an expiry date for the protection of unpublished works
  • Strengthening general “fair use” permitted use
  • Facilitating the work of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums
  • Adjusting existing provisions for users with print disabilities
  • Facilitating the dissemination of information/materials by the government to the public
  • Protecting certain exceptions from being restricted by contracts
  • New class licensing scheme for collective management organisations

If passed, the Ministry said that it expects to be able to operationalise most of the provisions in the Bill in November 2021.

The Ministry had previously conducted a public consultation on the draft Copyright Bill with the intellectual property office of Singapore, earlier this year from 5 February 2021 to 8 April 2021.

In a separate press release statement on its website, the Ministry of Law said that most respondents (which included both stakeholders and members of the public) agreed that the draft bill was well-written and easier to understand than the existing Copyright Act. Earlier in March this year when the draft bill was introduced, The Straits Times reported that industry players were upbeat about the revisions as it expands the rights for users, including the right to use works for computational data analysis, text and data mining.

Under the new bill, selling set-top boxes offering access to pirated online streams of movies and television shows would be outlawed, with tightened regulations to make it more difficult for retailers to evade legal action. For the general public, sharing or posting a video of a dance performance online or a photo of a painting from an art gallery would also require the performer or creator to be identified and credited, said The Straits Times.

Meanwhile, across the border, Malaysia's minister of communications and multimedia Saifuddin Abdullah last month unveiled that approximately RM46 million of funding will be handed out to support production companies in the creative industry under the Digital Content Fund 3.0. One category of the grant will open special slots on national TV station platforms to publish their products. According to FINAS, this will help provide broadcast stations with fresh content for viewers and also increase content copyright ownership for producers for future profit generation.

On a similar note, the Intellectual Property High Court in Kuala Lumpur declared that the sale, offer for sale, distribution and/or supply of TV boxes or illicit streaming devices (ISDs) that can provide unauthorised access to copyrighted works, constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act 1987, earlier this year in May. At the same time, FINAS also established the Digital Piracy Eradication Committee with the support and involvement of relevant law enforcement agencies. CEO of FINAS Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri said this was to further empower and strengthen enforcement, regulations and the terms of distribution licences in line with the provisions under the FINAS Act 244 1981, in an effort to drive a more holistic and effective strategy battling digital piracy,

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