Copyright Law in Singapore

Last updated on May 24, 2010


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Swipe to learn more about copyright laws – an area of Intellectual Property law! 🤧 – It’s important to keep in mind that copies or imitations of a creation (such as tracing others’ art, or making a song using the melody of an existing song) without the copyright owner’s permission would be considered copyright infringement. 👀👀 The copyright owner would be able to sue the infringer, for possibly as much as $10,000 for each infringed work! 😱 Guess you may truly pay the price if you copy someone else’s work without their permission. 🤷‍♀️ #SingaporeLegalAdvice – P.S.: In this post, we have stated that it is the commissioner that owns the copyright in commissioned works. However, Singapore’s Copyright Act will be amended in the future to make the creator the owner of such works unless the creator agrees, in writing, that the commissioner will own the copyright instead. 😌

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Copyright law protects the way that ideas, information, etc. are expressed, thus works like writings, television programmes and musical compositions etc. are protected under copyright. However, copyright is not infringed if someone ends up with a similar work without copying.

No registration is required for copyright and it arises immediately from the creation of the work. The copyright symbol is also not a necessity for copyright protection, although it will be more difficult for a potential defendant to use the “ignorance defence” if the symbol is used.

Usually, the creator owns the copyright. However, there are exceptions. If an employee creates a work according to the terms of his employment contract, the employer owns the copyright. For employees of newspapers, the employers own the right to republish and reproduce, but the employee owns the rest of the rights. Generally, if a work is commissioned, the commissioner owns the copyright.

Copyright owners may transfer their rights to other parties either partially or wholly.

For literary, musical works, performances, films etc., the term of protection of the copyright is usually the author’s lifetime plus 70 years. The exception is when the work is published after the author’s death. In that case, the copyright will last 70 years from the end of the year when it is published.

For published editions of works, (magazines etc), the copyright lasts 25 years from the end of the year that it is published. Copyright for broadcasts and cable programmes lasts 50 years from the end of year of making the broadcast or cable programme.

So when do you need a copyright licence? You need one when you do something that the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do, such as photocopying an article, or providing entertainment in the form of music for your business. You have to contact the various copyright owners for a copyright licence. For musical works, the licences can usually be obtained from collective management associations such as the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore. However, it is not the only collective management association. Various organisations hold different copyrights, thus check that you are getting the right ones for your business.