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.
Generally, the person who created the work (i.e. the author) owns the copyright in the work. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Some exceptions are:
Employment: If the work is created by an employee pursuant to the terms of his employment, the employer owns the copyright in the work.
Special situation for newspaper/magazine/periodical employees: Where an employee of a newspaper, magazine or periodical creates a literary, dramatic or artistic work pursuant to the terms of his employment and for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or periodical, the proprietor of the newspaper, magazine or periodical owns the copyright in respect of publication in or reproduction for the purpose of publication in any newspaper, magazine or periodical. The employee owns the remaining rights that make up the copyright bundle of exclusive rights.
Commissioning: If a portrait/photograph/engraving is commissioned by another party, the commissioner owns the copyright in the work. If the portrait/photograph/engraving is required for a particular purpose, this purpose must be communicated to the commissioned party. While the commissioner is the copyright owner, the commissioned party has the right to stop others from doing any act comprised in the copyright, unless such act is done for the particular purpose for which the portrait/photograph/engraving is created.
For other types of commissioned works, ownership belongs to the commissioned party, unless the commissioner and commissioned party otherwise agree.
As mentioned in the introduction, the copyright owner may transfer his rights to another party or entity either partially or wholly.
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.
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.
Seeking permission from copyright owners
Consent is needed to do anything that only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do (e.g. reproduce the work) unless it is a situation that falls under Exceptions to Copyright Infringement. Sometimes, consent is indicated in the terms of permitted use, e.g. "for Private Use Only". Otherwise, one should seek consent. Merely acknowledging the source when one uses the work is insufficient.
To obtain consent from copyright owners, one may:
A collective management organisation is an organisation that administers the rights of a group of copyright owners. It can grant consent for use of the works of its members under specific conditions. For more information on the collective management organisations in Singapore, please refer to Collective Management Organisations and Seeking Permission from Collective Management Organisations.
Not all IP Associations are collective management organisations (that administer licences). The following are IP Associations that represent the interests of copyright owners. Generally they are non-profit, non-government bodies engaging in the promotional, educational and trade-related activities on behalf of their members:
For more details, please refer to Industry IP Groups.
Some copyright owners across jurisdictions have adopted licences provided by Creative Commons (CC).
CC is a non-profit organisation that provides licences and tools to allow owners of copyright material to designate the conditions (or “attributes”) under which their material may be used worldwide.
CC licences are not an alternative to copyright. In fact, they apply existing copyright law.
Users of CC licensed material are permitted to use the material without the need to further seek explicit permission from the owner, so long as the use conforms to the licence attributes.
Material released under a CC licence is not necessarily in the "public domain", as the licensor using a CC licence does not have to give up all rights to his/her material.
CC licences are offered to the public at no charge and no registration is required to use a CC licence.
More information on CC licences can be found here.
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