Draft Copyright Bill will benefit creators, users of works: Experts

WongPartnership’s Mr Lam Chung Nian (left) says the proposed changes to the Copyright Act are very substantial, having been rewritten from the ground up, while Singapore Management University law don Saw Cheng Lim says there is much to commend in t
WongPartnership’s Mr Lam Chung Nian (left) says the proposed changes to the Copyright Act are very substantial, having been rewritten from the ground up, while Singapore Management University law don Saw Cheng Lim says there is much to commend in the draft Bill.
Law firm Bird & Bird ATMD partner Alban Kang and counsel Oh Pin-Ping say the draft Bill is a major overhaul of the Act in a number of ways, and “some changes will have a greater impact on the commercialisation and use of copyrighted works by busine
Law firm Bird & Bird ATMD partner Alban Kang and counsel Oh Pin-Ping say the draft Bill is a major overhaul of the Act in a number of ways, and “some changes will have a greater impact on the commercialisation and use of copyrighted works by businesses than others”.

Industry players are upbeat about the draft Copyright Bill introduced last month to update and replace the current Copyright Act.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos), which launched a two-month-long public consultation exercise to seek feedback on the Bill, said yesterday: "The draft Copyright Bill is written and organised in a way to make the copyright law more accessible to the public."

The draft Bill features new rights, exceptions and remedies to benefit all stakeholders, such as the right for creators and performers to be identified whenever their works or performances are used publicly. Among other things, it expands the rights for users, including the right to use works for computational data analysis, text and data mining.

MinLaw and Ipos said in a joint statement the review of the copyright regime seeks "to ensure that the copyright law continues to provide the appropriate reward for the creation of works and, at the same time, ensure such works are available for the benefit of society at large, including to educate and inspire current and future creators".

The Bill will also strengthen the copyright ecosystem and benefit members of collective management organisations (CMOs), such as songwriters and writers, as well as users who take licences from the CMOs. These CMOs will be regulated by Ipos to ensure minimum compliance standards.

Four rounds of public consultations since 2016, including the current exercise, have helped to shaped the Bill, which takes into account how technology "has democratised the tools for creation, dissemination and consumption of works, as well as proposed rights and uses to be applied to the digital world".

Law firm Bird & Bird ATMD partner Alban Kang and counsel Oh Pin-Ping said the draft Bill represents a major overhaul of the current Act in a number of ways.

"Archaic phrases are replaced with plain English; a principle-based formulation has been adopted to provide for a more dynamic regime that can better adapt to technological changes," they said in a joint response.

In a posting on Bird & Bird ATMD's website explaining the key proposals and their practical implications, the two lawyers said "some changes will have a greater impact on the commercialisation and use of copyrighted works by businesses than others".

Mr Lam Chung Nian, who heads WongPartnership's intellectual property, technology and data group, said the proposed changes are "very substantial", having been rewritten from the ground up.

These include specific civil and criminal liabilities for dealings in respect of media-streaming boxes and services providing access to audio-visual content from unauthorised sources, he added.

  • New rights, exceptions and remedies for stakeholders

  • The draft Copyright Bill features new rights, exceptions and remedies to benefit all stakeholders, including:

    • A new right for creators and performers to be identified whenever their works or performances are used publicly;

    • Expanded rights for users, including a specific right to use works for computational data analysis, text and data mining as well as machine learning;

    • A new right for students and educators to use online materials for educational purposes;

    • Expanded rights for certain uses of works by galleries, archives, libraries and museums to facilitate their work such as for exhibitions, preservation and cataloguing of works; and

    • Enhanced remedies to benefit intermediaries, such as new civil and criminal liabilities for commercial dealings in illicit TV set-top boxes.

Associate Professor Saw Cheng Lim from Singapore Management University's School of Law said: "Of all the intellectual property rights, copyright is arguably the one right which the layman is most acquainted with. We are all authors in our own right as we create and generate copyright works far more often in our everyday lives than we tend to realise. There is much to commend in this draft Bill."

The full public consultation paper can be viewed at https://go.gov.sg/ copyright-consult2021, and public feedback may be submitted by April 1 via the forms accessible at the link or via e-mail to MLAW_ Consultation@mlaw.gov.sg with the subject or header "Feedback on Copyright Bill Consultation Paper".

K.C. Vijayan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2021, with the headline 'Draft Copyright Bill will benefit creators, users of works: Experts'. Subscribe