Singapore’s Ministry of Law has put forward the new Copyright Bill to repeal and replace the existing Copyright Act.
The aim of the new Bill is to ‘stay abreast of changes in how content is created, distributed, and used’ and this is to be done by reinforcing copyright laws in Singapore.
A main element of the new Bill includes increasing accessibility to the law via simplifying the language. In a statement released by the Ministry, it is highlighted that the Bill will restructure and reword the law in plain English. Furthermore, illustrations will be provided to aid creators, users and intermediaries in understanding how copyright law works.
The key features of the Bill are:
a. It will introduce new rights and remedies for creators, to ensure copyright continues to reward the creation of works and incentivise creativity. For example:
- A new right to be identified will require users to ensure that when materials are used in public, including when they are distributed online, the creator or performer is acknowledged. This will help individual creators and performers build their reputation.
- Creators of photographs, portraits, engravings, sound recordings and films, whether commissioned or otherwise, will by default be the first owner of copyright unless otherwise prescribed by contract. This changes the current position, where the commissioning party owns the copyright by default. Creators will be better positioned to negotiate with the commissioning parties, and can further showcase and commercialise their works for other purposes.
b. It will create new exceptions to copyright owners’ rights, known as “permitted uses” to ensure copyright works are reasonably available for the benefit of society and to support innovation. For example:
- Copyright works, if lawfully accessed (e.g. without circumventing paywalls), can be used for computational data analysis, such as sentiment analysis, text and data mining, or training machine learning, without having to seek the permission of each copyright owner. This will support research and innovation efforts.
- Teachers and students may use freely available internet materials in their educational activities, including for home-based learning, as long as they acknowledge the source. However, if they are made aware that the source is infringing, they must stop using it. This new exception is timely, since the use of online materials for educational purposes has increased substantially.
Should the Bill be passed, the Ministry will be able to invoke most of the provisions in the Bill in November 2021.
Ministry of Law, Singapore (link)
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