If you, your business or your organisation uses material that is protected by copyright administered by a collective management organisation, this section provides general information on the "why"s and "how"s to obtain authorisation for the use of such material.
For a summary of information on the licences your business may require, please click here.
Note: The information provided here is meant only as a guide and does not amount to legal advice. Please seek independent professional advice before acting on any matter contained herein.
A collective management organisationis formed or appointed by copyright holders to manage the rights in their copyright works. Collective management organisations administer the licensing of rights, collection of royalties and enforcement of rights on behalf of the copyright holders. Although not all copyright holders are members of collective management organisations, in some instances, these organisations form the main contact points between copyright holders and users. For further information, please refer to the questions and answers below on collective management organisations in Singapore.
For rights associated with musical works, lyrics and music videos, please click here.
For further information and contact details of the collective management organizations that manage rights for musical works, lyrics and music videos, please click here.
For rights associated with literary works please see here.
Generally, a user would have to obtain a license for the use of a work if:
To find out more about copyright protection, please see About Copyright and Asking Permission and Using Copyright.
For businesses and organisations, copyright works can be used in many different ways. For example, a lounge can have live performances by bands; radio stations will broadcast songs over the air; advertising companies may adapt well-known pictures and songs for their advertisements; conference speakers may circulate interesting articles to the participants and so on.
The following provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of some common scenarios where copyright protected works are used and when you may need a licence for such uses:
Scenario 1: If you play music in public:
As part of your business, you may provide entertainment in the form of music. This includes night spots, karaoke, restaurants, discotheques, lounges and so on. Or your business plays background music e.g. hotels, factories, skating rinks, hairdressing salons, fitness and shopping centres, or you provide telephone music on-hold facilities. All these activities constitute public performances of musical works.
Enquire with COMPASS on the need for and terms of a licence for such uses of music (excluding the use of music videos and private re-mixing, which need other licences. See other scenarios below).
Scenario 2: If you reproduce copyright works:
Your business may make copies (physical or digital) of copyright works. For example, the use of mobile phone ringtones, the photocopying of books, copying of photographs, photos and drawings and so on. All these concern the reproduction right of copyright works. To make a copy of a musical work, enquire with MPS and COMPASS. To make a copy of the original sound recordings, enquire with RIPS. To make a copy of a literary work, enquire with CLASS.
Scenario 3: If you publish copyright works:
Your business publishes works with significant portions of other people's copyright works, for example assessment books with questions taken from other sources or graphics related books with photos taken by other photographers. Enquire with the owners of these copyright works.
Scenario 4: If you are adapting a musical work:
Your business may rearrange a musical work for use in advertisements or commercials. To obtain permission to adapt a musical work, enquire with MPS or COMPASS.
Scenario 5: If you organise concerts, events etc
Your business organises events such as concerts, fun fair carnivals, weddings and so on. For the use of music, or music videos, enquire with COMPASS and RIPS, respectively.
The Copyright Act provides for exceptions for "fair dealing" and other scenarios in the use of copyrighted works. The fair dealing exceptions can be found in section 35 to 40A of the Copyright Act (Cap. 63). When these exceptions apply, there is no need to obtain permission to use copyright works within the parameters of these exceptions. It is advisable to check with your own legal counsel about the applicability of these exceptions to your business.
Since the collective management organisations represent the copyright owners, you can approach any representative of the relevant collective management organisation for authorisation to use the works that they administer.
But collective management organisations do not administer all works, or all the rights in the works they administer. If the rights to works are not administered by a collective management organisation in Singapore (such as the rights to use a photograph, drawing, sculpture, etc), you will have to approach the copyright owner to get his/her permission to use the particular work in that particular manner. The names of the rights owner are often available on the work itself. If not, you could check with the provider of the work.
For example, you have found a very interesting cartoon strip on a news portal and would like to include that as an illustration in your soon-to-be-published book. Look next to the © symbol on the cartoon strip which should indicate the author/owner. If that is not available, approach the news portal for rights information about the cartoon strip.
Each collective management organisation is authorised by the rights owner to administer particular rights on his/her behalf. If your activity requires the use of several rights, you will need to approach the societies administering those rights. For example, if you make your own collection of songs for your CD and play it during a fun fair, you will need to obtain reproduction licences from RIPS, and MPS, to make your CD and a public performance licence from COMPASS to play the musical works publicly.
A collective management organisation will have a scale of fees which it will charge depending on the different use of the copyright works. For COMPASS, these fees are available on its website. MPS/RIPS licence fees are generally granted either on an annual basis or to cover 'one-off' single events. Usage which does not fall into the standard tariffs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you are using works that are not administered by collective management organisations, you would have to approach the right owners themselves for permission. The right owners will determine how much they want to charge for a particular use of their works, if at all.
For musical works and sound recordings, the usual information required by the collective management organisations include: the title of the song, composer/lyricists and usage details. This information will allow the collective management organisation to determine if they could allow the use of the works. Copyright owners, as the creators of the works, are sometimes particular about what their creations are used for. For example, music publishers, in some instances, will need to seek approval from the songwriters and/or copyright owner of the music composition. The songwriter and/or copyright owner has the right to approve or deny the use of a music composition for various reasons. For example, in the case of TV commercial music usage request, some songwriters/copyright owner may not want to be associated with a certain product which could be against their personal values and/or beliefs. Hence requests could be denied. Sometimes, the music composition may have been licensed exclusively to another licensee and hence cannot be further licensed for any other use. For more info, please see the MPS website.
For other copyright works, please provide sufficient information for the copyright owners to be able to identify the work and explain the manner of use. The collective management organisations need the information as part of their service to help draft out a suitable licence that is adequate for your use. The information is also used to determine the appropriate rate for the licence. Collective management organisations also need the information in order to distribute the royalties back to the correct rights owners (see section on What do collective management organisations do with the money collected?).
Depending on the nature of the licence application, the collective management organisations could get back to you to clarify some details. Based on feedback by the collective management organisations, the following is the estimated time lines for the various collective management organisations to reply to your enquiry:
Collective management organisation are usually structured as non-profit entities. After deducting an administration fee, the rest of the amount collected is distributed back to the copyright owners. For ease of administration, the monies are distributed usually on a half yearly or yearly basis. Collective management organisation have a distribution policy to determine how much money goes to which copyright owner, depending on how often the work was used. Thus a famous song played very frequently on the radio would earn the original composer more royalties.
Some collective management organisations follow the best practice of putting up a Code of Conduct for their operations. Some also upload their annual reports or yearbook to explain their operations to the public.
If you still need further clarification on the operations of collective management organisations, you can contact them via their email links on this page.
Authors, artists, musicians, playwrights, programmers and others involved in the copyright and related industries are creative professionals who bring us new songs, books, plays, films and other works. They invest time, intellectual and creative effort to make available to the public works of literature, music, art, software applications and so on.
Copyright laws are in place to provide protection for such works, and to recognise the creators for their creative effort. They also provide incentives for them to continue creating.
The rates of copyright works usage and payment terms are private matters between users and the collective management organisations acting on behalf of right owners. Collective management organisation can sometimes offer fee-free licences for causes they find worthy to support. For example, some collective management organisations have granted fee-free licences for the use of music in key charitable events.
If you are concerned with the rates and/or terms of the licenses, you should contact the senior managers of CLASS, COMPASS, MPS, and RIPS.
Singapore has also established a Copyright Tribunal empowered to resolve licensing disputes between copyright owners and users of copyright materials. Hearings by the Copyright Tribunal do not require you to engage a lawyer, although having legal advice could help in presenting your case to the Tribunal. Contact the Secretariat of the Copyright Tribunal for more information.
In the event that the terms and conditions for licences with the rights owners could not be agreed upon, and the dispute falls within the purview of the Copyright Tribunal, the Copyright Tribunal could be an avenue to settle the concerns with the collective management organisation.
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