Singapore’s Copyright Act Is Set To Be Overhauled (Part 1)


Singapore’s current Copyright Act is set to be overhauled with sweeping changes expected to come into effect in November 2021. With the changes, rights-owners and users can expect new and enhanced rights.

This article  is the first of a series of 2 articles. In this first part, we share the 5 main changes that will benefit rights-owners either through the introduction of new rights or the enhancement of existing rights.

Below is a summary of  4 anticipated main changes for a rights-owner. In our summary, sometimes the “rights-owner” is also referred to as the “creator”.


1. Overall Change - Intuitive and thematic arrangement of provisions in plain English language

In general, both rights-owners and users can cheer that  the Copyright Act will be restructured (provisions will be arranged such that a reader will intuitively be able to find a relevant provision), and will be written in plain English. These editorial changes will enhance the clarity and accessibility of the Copyright Act.


2. Creators and performers must be identified in a clear and prominent way

  • This is a completely new right for creators and is particularly beneficial and important in this digital era of viral sharing and misattributions. The new law will require anyone who publishes a work or performance to identify the creator or the performer of the work clearly and prominently.
  • With this new provision, Rights-owners will receive greater exposure and recognition.  Among other things, attribution helps to build reputation, increase commercialization of  works and incentivizes the creation of more new works. 
  • On what exactly is “prominent”, only time will tell when the courts have an opportunity to consider and rule on whether a particular attribution was sufficiently prominent.
  • Undoubtedly, many users may out of necessity require the rights-owners to waive their right. In such a case rights-owners (who are inclined to give a waiver) should take the advice of relevant experts who understand Intellectual Property to negotiate an agreement of commercial value.


3. Creators will be granted default ownership of certain commissioned work

This is an extension of a current right. The current law gives a creatordefault ownership of their works (including works they have been commissioned to create) with the exception of the commissioning of photographs, portraits, engravings, sound recordings or films (“excluded works”). The new Act will extend rightof default ownership to the excluded works.


4. Rights-owners to have clear rights to sue parties that sell or engage in services or devices that facilitate copyright infringement

Currently, distributors and retailers of devices or services that allowits customers unauthorized access to third party content (e.g. the service of streaming of audio-visual content from unauthorized sources or retail of unlicensed set top boxes) are not liable for infringement of copyright. With the coming into effect of the new Act, rights-owners will be able to sue distributors and retailers who knowingly engage in such commercial activities.


5. Rights-owners and collective management organisations (CMOs) will have a new right to collect license fees for any broadcast or public performance of sound recordings via means other than digital audio transmission

Sound recording rights-owners will have a new revenue stream inlicenses fees from broadcast or public performance of sound recordings. Currently, rights-owners of sound recordings only have a right to control how sound recordings are made available via a digital audio transmission. Currently there are also no rights for sound recordings heard in public through other means (e.g. analogue, broadcasting, transmission (including in cable program). The change to the law will give the rights-owner new equitable remuneration rights when sound recordings are broadcasted or publicly performed.