The Ministry of Law has launched a public consultation to seek views on proposed changes to Singapore’s copyright regime. As the last major overhaul of the Singapore Copyright Act was in 2004, the review is timely to ensure that the law continues to reflect technological advances and changing business needs in recent years. The closing date for submission of comments is 24 October 2016.
The consultation covers the following topics:
- Establishing a voluntary copyright registration system: Should Singapore have a copyright registry. If so, should a “title” registry or a “deposit” registry be established, and what presumptions should registration give rise to?
- Granting creators default ownership of certain commissioned works: Should creators of certain commissioned works have first ownership of the copyright in the works by default?
- Setting an expiry date for protection of unpublished works: (a) Should unpublished literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works be protected for the same duration as published works, ie, 70 years after death of the creator? (b) Should sound recordings, cinematograph films and works with an unknown creator be protected for (i) 70 years after first publication if they were published within 50 years of creation; or (ii) 70 years after creation if published after 50 years of creation?
- Attributing creators whenever their works are used: Should there be a personal right of attribution for creators and performers in the Copyright Act? If so, what should be the duration, and defences to infringement, of this right?
- Providing information to help the creator-publisher/producer relationship: Should there be an informative website that would provide information which supports creators, to help them better understand copyright laws and the rights they have over their creative works, and thereby in managing their works?
- Protecting certain exceptions from being restricted by contracts: Should there be certain exceptions to infringement in the Copyright Act (eg, “fair use”, education, certain uses of software, parallel importation) that should not be restricted by contractual terms?
- Strengthening the general “fair use” exception: In determining whether the “fair use” defence to copyright infringement under the Copyright Act applies 1 of 5 non-exhaustive factors that the courts will take into account is “the possibility of obtaining the work… within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price”. In view of the current technology landscape and globalisation which makes true unavailability of copyrighted works less common, should this factor be removed? Should any other changes should be made to the “fair use” defence?
- Enabling the use of orphan works (ie, works for which the copyright owner is unknown): How should the Copyright Act facilitate the use of orphan works (eg, limitation of remedies, requirement for registration with an orphan works register)? What should the minimum of due diligence searches be to determine if a work is to be considered an orphan work? Should works with unreachable authors also benefit from the new proposals?
- Unlocking the potential of text and data mining: Given the new research tools and methods that have been developed to text and data mining, should a new exception be introduced to allow the copying of copyrighted works for purposes of data analysis?
- Facilitating educational uses by non-profit educational institutions: Should there be a new exception for non-profit educational institutions for giving or receiving instruction? Should any other exceptions be provided for educational use?
- Facilitating the work of libraries and archives: Should there be a new exception for libraries and archives to be able to make a copy of the materials in their collection for the purpose of general exhibition to the general public? Should there be any changes to the existing exceptions?
- Facilitating the work of museums and galleries: Should there be new exceptions for museums and galleries to make a copy of copyrighted materials in their collection (i) for preservation or record-keeping; (ii) for the purpose of exhibition or related publicity; or (iii) on request by persons requiring access to the same for research and study, when the museums and galleries are non-profit in nature, or when they display items from the National Collection?
- Adjusting existing provisions for print-disabled users: Should the reference to “persons with reading disabilities” in the exceptions to benefit the visually impaired and print disabled community be changed to “persons with print disabilities” instead, to more accurately capture the blind/visually-impaired community’s difficulties? Should the right of copyright owners to seek equitable remuneration for conversion of their works into accessible formats be removed?
- Allowing the use of non-patent literature in patent search and examination work: Should a new exception be introduced to allow (i) the making and giving of copies of non-patent literature by and between the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), its patent examiners and other third party experts engaged by IPOS for patent office functions; and (ii) the giving of copies of non-patent literature by IPOS to patent applicants and other IP officers upon request, for patent office functions?
- Increasing the availability of materials on official government registers: Should a new exception be introduced to clarify that (i) the collection of material by public agencies for inclusion in official or statutory registers for the public to inspect; and (ii) the making of copies of such material by members of the public, does not infringe the copyright in such material?
- Updating the list of allowable circumventions of technological protection measures (“TPMs”): TPMs are measures used to restrict the access or use of copyrighted works. Should the current list of exceptions that allow for circumvention of TPMs be maintained, and should new exceptions be introduced? One consideration, in particular, is whether the by-passing of geo-restrictions using Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology should be made illegal.
The full consultation paper is available here.
If this is an area is of interest to you, Bird & Bird would be happy to work with you to help you understand how the proposals can affect the way you do business, and assist with preparing a submission to the public consultation on the issues which are of concern to you.