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Proposed changes to Singapore copyright law could affect access to overseas content

Singapore will consider the legality of using services such as virtual private networks (VPNs) as part of a reassessment of the country's Copyright Act.23 Aug 2016

Singapore is consulting on changes to the copyright rules in order to "keep pace with modern developments so as to support creativity and innovation", and to benefit both creators and users, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has said.

MinLaw has asked for feedback on whether the current list of "allowable circumventions of technological protection measures" should be retained, and what new measures should be allowed.

The term 'technological protection measures' refers to ways of restricting access to copyrighted works. VPNs may be used to do this by accessing overseas content even though geographical restrictions on access to that content have been implemented.

MinLaw also proposed that "there should be a new exception for copying of works for the purposes of data analysis to facilitate text and data mining", and that public schools be allowed to reproduce and share more content on student portals. Plans to make it easier to use so-called 'orphan works' – copyright works that have no known author – and to give greater rights to creators of commissioned works has also been proposed.

Technology law expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The changes proposed are wide-ranging, some touching upon parts of the Copyright Act that have been unchanged for over 50 years. These practices may have fallen behind international practice and technological and societal changes so the review is welcomed."

Minister of state for law and finance, Indranee Rajah, said: "This is a wide ranging review which aims to help creators gain more recognition and practical protection for their works, while providing users with reasonable and easier access to those works."

MinLaw's consultation closes on 24 October.