Include fair-use clause in Copyright Act

The report on Aug 24 ("VPN tech being reviewed under Copyright Act") has called into question whether the virtual private network (VPN) is a bane or a boon in our battle to combat piracy online.

The purpose of copyright laws is to protect the intellectual property of writers, architects, software designers, filmmakers and musicians and reward them for their creativity.

The Berne Convention, of which Singapore is a member, was first adopted in 1886, and it is questionable whether such conventions are still relevant in our era of immediate communication and smartphones.

It is a fact that VPNs are much more than just pipelines for connecting remote employees to central work servers.

The lion's share of modern VPNs is encrypted, so computers and other networks that connect to them do so via encrypted tunnels.

Most companies maintain VPNs to enable employees to access files, printers and other resources on the office network without compromising security.

Because the VPN encrypts online traffic, it helps to stymie other people who try to capture one's password.

The media today can be invaluable for the education of children. However, it is prohibitively expensive for a teacher to buy 42 copies of a work, and often, the cost is beyond the students' means.

Allowing a reasonable number of copies for educational use promotes and improves discourse throughout society.

In a recent Australian report, the Productivity Commission recommended that consumers be able to legally circumvent geoblocking restrictions that have prevented them from using foreign online streaming services such as Netflix, and that it is not an infringement of copyright for consumers to be able to evade such technology.

Such restrictions have the opposite effect of encouraging Internet piracy. Making the price of copyright material more reasonable is the best antidote to copyright infringement.

There should be a fair-use clause built into the Copyright Act to foster certainty that will benefit schools, libraries and archives in our country.

Heng Cho Choon