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.
Copyright can be transferred either as an entire bundle, or as a single, distinct right within the bundle. The copyright owner may transfer his rights to another party or entity either partially or wholly.
Protection of copyright
There is no need to file for registration to get copyright protection. An author automatically enjoys copyright protection as soon as he creates and expresses his original work in a tangible form, such as in a recording or writing. Originality simply means that there is a degree of independent effort in the creation of the work.
A copyright work created by a Singapore citizen or resident is protected in many countries overseas by virtue of international agreements. Generally, under these international agreements, the work of a Singapore citizen or resident would be protected in countries that signed the agreements as though the work was made there.
Proof of originality
In practice, authors have resorted to a number of ways to preserve their interests. They may have:
However, these are by no means fool proof methods of proving authorship as they do not prove that the work is original or created by the author. In a dispute, the Court will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the authorship.
The © symbol
The use of the symbol is simply a notice of a claim by the owner that copyright exists. It does not give the copyright owner any substantive right and is therefore not crucial for copyright protection.
If you do not use the symbol it does not mean that you waive your right of copyright or that you lose protection. It may, however, be relevant in infringement proceedings if the infringing party claims that he did not know that the material was protected under copyright law. The use of the symbol would generally stop the infringing party from successfully relying on such an argument.
In practice, the © symbol is usually followed by the year when copies of the work were first made available and the name of the copyright owner. Sometimes there may also be a statement indicating the terms of permitted use. In cases where owners only allow for very limited use, the term “All Rights Reserved” may be found after the symbol.
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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