Copyright protects works like novels, computer programmes, plays, sheet music and paintings. Generally, the author of a copyright work has the right to reproduce, publish, perform, communicate and adapt his work. These exclusive rights form the bundle of rights that we call copyright and enable the owner to control the commercial exploitation of his work.
What is protected by copyright?
Copyright protects the expression of ideas (e.g. words and illustrations). Ideas alone are not protected.
The following may be protected under copyright law:
What is not protected by copyright?
Subject matter not protected by copyright include:
Copyright and registered designs
When an artistic work, such as a drawing or a sculpture, is applied to a product and industrially produced (i.e. more than 50 copies of the products are produced), the copyright protection will no longer cover that artistic work. It may be protected as a registered design under the Registered Designs Act (Cap. 266), if the registration criteria are met.
For more information on registered design and its registration criteria, please see Registered Designs.
Rights of a copyright owner
Literary, dramatic and musical works
Authors enjoy the exclusive rights to:
Artists enjoy the exclusive right to:
Published editions of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
The publisher has the exclusive right to make a reproduction of the edition.
The producer of a sound recording enjoys the exclusive rights to:
* Where the sound recording is made available to the public through a non-interactive digital audio transmission, the producer of the recording shall be entitled to equitable remuneration. This remuneration can be agreed between the parties or determined by the Copyright Tribunal.
The producer of a film enjoys the exclusive rights to:
Television and radio broadcasts
The broadcaster enjoys the exclusive rights to:
The producer of the cable programme enjoys the exclusive rights to:
The performer has the right to authorise the following uses:
"Communicate" means to transmit by electronic means a work or other subject matter, whether or not it is sent in response to a request, and includes:
Term of protection
The duration varies according to the type of copyright work concerned.
Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works
70 years from the end of the year in which the author died.
Specifically for photographs, or if the work is published after the death of the author, it lasts for 70 years, from the end of the year in which the work was first published.
Published editions of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works (layout)
25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.
Sound recordings and films
70 years from the end of the year in which the sound recording or film was first published.
Broadcasts and cable programmes
50 years from the end of the year of making the broadcast or cable programme.
70 years from the end of the year of the performance.
Legislation governing copyright
The Copyright Act (Cap. 63) and its subsidiary legislation form the legislation governing copyright law in Singapore.
The latest legislation updates can be viewed here.
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