5 important changes to Singapore Copyright Law and how they’ll affect Content Creators


  • Creators will be default copyright owners
  • Employers have default copyright ownership
  • Time limit to copyright duration for unpublished works
  • Changes to news reporting under “fair use”
  • Easier resolutions with CMOs
5 Changes to Singapore's Copyright Law that will most impact Content Creators - The Fandom Menace

I’m excited about the draft Copyright Bill to replace the current Copyright Act. What about you?

For starters, the new draft Copyright Bill is written and organised in a way that prioritises readability and ease of understanding. For example, a phrase like “edition which is stored on any medium by electronic means” is now simply referred to as “electronic edition”.

Goodbye convoluted distinctions, and hello plain English.

The draft Copyright Bill also introduces new rights and exceptions. But what do the new changes mean for content creators?

Source: NTUC U FSE

During an info session, jointly organised by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and NTUC Freelancers and Self-employed Unit (U FSE), legal counsel Joel Goh of IPOS helpfully pointed out a few of the more impactful amendments for content creators:

Ownership of commissioned works in Singapore Copyright Law

By current Singapore copyright law, the default copyright owner is the commissioning party. But with the draft Copyright Bill, the default copyright owner will be the creator.

This, however, doesn’t apply to employee-employer relationships. Employers are granted default copyright ownership in all works created by employees during the course of employment.

Default copyright ownership is also subject to terms of agreement or contracts between creator and commissioner.

More detailed info is available under section 3, page 6 of the Part 1 Consultation Paper.

Copyright Duration in Singapore Copyright Law

Unpublished works currently enjoy perpetual copyright protection, but this will soon change. The draft Copyright Bill will set a time limit to the duration of copyright for unpublished works.

There will also be further amendments to copyright duration of various types of works.

In some cases, there is longer copyright protection for creatives’ works. In other cases, a limit to copyright duration can enable more creative freedom.

More detailed info is available under section 3, page 7 of the Part 1 Consultation Paper.

Right of Attribution in Singapore Copyright Law

Currently, creators have only the right to prevent false attribution of authorship or performer’s identity. Moving forward, a new right will be introduced for creators and performers to be acknowledged whenever their work or performance is used in public.

Identification has to be clear and reasonably prominent, and you as a creator or performer can dictate the preferred manner of identification.

It is a personal right and non-transferable. The right will subsist for the duration of copyright or protection period of performance.

There are exceptions to this, for instance, unknown identity, use of material in a court setting or news reporting, and waivers in contracts. This right also doesn’t apply to certain works like computer programmes.

More detailed info is available under section 3, page 10 of the Part 1 Consultation Paper.

“Fair use” Exception in Singapore Copyright Law

The use of copyrighted works, without seeking permission from the copyright owner, is allowed if the court deems it “fair use”. The current Copyright Act has five factors that the court must consider when determining whether the use is “fair”.

The draft Copyright Bill proposes that the fifth factor, reporting news, is no longer a mandatory one as it may be irrelevant to some cases.

The ease up on the fair use exception means that creators can more freely build upon existing works. The reporting news exception will also extend to “all qualifying acts”, instead of just newspapers and certain media organisations.

More detailed info is available under section 3, page 12 of the Part 1 Consultation Paper.

Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) will be regulated by IPOS

For a quick definition of CMOs, you can refer to this on the IPOS website.

IPOS will administer a new class license scheme for all CMOs. IPOS will be empowered to impose financial penalties for non-compliance, issue cessation orders, and issue written directions – where failure to comply will result in a fine, imprisonment or both.

What does this mean for content creators?

According to Joel Goh, CMOs will be held to higher standards when administering creators’ copyright. Creators will enjoy greater flexibility and control over their collectively licensed works. And disputes with CMOs will resolve more effectively.

More detailed info is available under section 2, page 2 of the Part 2 Consultation Paper.

Your opinion as a content creator matters!

The two-month long public consultation exercise began in February, and we are now down to the last few days before the deadline on 8 April 2021.

You are encouraged to read the Consultation Paper, which raises many points of consideration for creators with regards to Singapore copyright law.

To view the full Consultation Paper and draft Copyright Bill, please visit https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/news/public-consultation-on-proposed-copyright-bill. You can submit feedback via the online forms provided.

Author: Desiree Goh

Desiree is a fan of anything that promises a good story with interesting characters and set in a world more interesting than this one. Alternatively, she can be found crusading Tumblr with an arsenal of GIFs.

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