Changes to Copyright Act take effect tomorrow

Changes to the Copyright Act that aim to strengthen the rights of creators and performers will take effect tomorrow, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and the Ministry of Law said in a joint statement yesterday.

The updated provisions, which were passed in Parliament in September, factor in technological developments that have impacted how content is created, distributed, accessed and used.

One change involves giving creators default ownership of certain commissioned works, such as photographs, portraits, engravings, sound recordings and films.

This is consistent with other types of commissioned works like poems, paintings and music compositions, and will apply unless the contract between the creator and the commissioning party states otherwise.

Commissioning parties can continue to use the work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. For example, couples who engage a wedding photographer can use their wedding photos for personal use even if they do not own the copyright.

Other laws covering personal data protection, defamation and criminal offences will continue to apply.

This means photographers must obtain consent from the subjects of a photograph before using it for other purposes such as including it in their portfolios.

Another change involves giving creators and performers the right to be identified in a clear and prominent manner, even if they do not own the copyright to the work.

This will help creators and performers gain recognition and build their reputations, especially online.

The obligation applies unless the creators or performers have agreed otherwise, but does not apply if their identities are unknown.

It also does not apply in specific scenarios such as where an artwork in a public place is captured in a photo or video, and in the case of exempted works such as computer programs.

The Act also contains new exceptions to copyright owners' rights to ensure works are reasonably available for use by the public.

The change means copyrighted works can be used for data analysis without permission as long as they are accessed lawfully.

And teachers and students can use online materials for educational purposes as long as the source and date of access are properly cited, but they must stop doing so if they are informed that the source has infringed on the owner's copyright.

More details on the new Copyright Act can be found at https://go.gov.sg/copyright-resources

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2021, with the headline 'Changes to Copyright Act take effect tomorrow'. Subscribe