Copyright And You

What is Copyright?
When a person expresses himself by creating a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, he has copyright in the work. Such work include books, periodicals, magazines, compilations of information, photographs, diagrams, dances, scripts for plays, computer programs, drawings, sculpture, musical scores, lyrics, sound recordings, cinematographic films, television broadcasts and cable programmes.

The law protects the creator’s expression manifested through the work but not the information contained in the work. For example, where 2 persons present the same statistics in different ways, the law will allow each of them to publish their presentation and prevent others from publishing the same presentation. Others may use the same statistics to make different presentations.

Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works last for the lifetime of the creator and continues for 70 years after his death.

Copyright in sound recordings and films last for 70 years from the date of first publication. Copyright in television and sound broadcasts and cable programmes last for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which they were first broadcast or included in a cable programme service.

Who Owns Copyright and What Rights Does the Owner Have?
The creator of the work will own the copyright in it and so the law gives him the exclusive right to publish, reproduce, communicate and benefit from the work in other ways. Other persons cannot do so without the permission of the copyright owner.

The copyright owner may permit others to publish, reproduce or communicate the work through agreements like licences. The owner may set conditions for such permission such as charging a fee.

However the permission of the owner is not required:

  1. Where the work is copied for self-study or research, that is, only 1 article in a periodical publication is copied or not more than 10% is copied of a published work which consists of 10 pages or more or not more than 1 chapter is copied of a work which is divided into chapters.
  2. Where the work is in electronic form and not more than 10% of the total number of bytes in that edition is copied or 10% of the total number of words in that edition or of the contents of that edition is copied.
  3. Where a computer program is reproduced is made on behalf of the owner as a back-up copy of the original computer program.
  4. Where an audio visual work (such as sound recording, cinematograph film, sound broadcast, television broadcast or cable programme) is copied for research or private
    study, subject to certain qualifications specified in the Copyright Act.
  5. Where a film or recording of television or sound broadcast or cable programmes is copied for private and domestic use. It should not be seen or heard in public.
  6. Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is copied for criticism or review, and for the reporting of current events, and sufficient acknowledgment of the work is made.
  7. Where a work is copied after the copyright in the work ceases.

What Are The Consequences Of Copyright Infringement?
In Singapore, copyright is protected mainly by the Copyright Act (Cap. 63).

A person who publishes, reproduces or communicates a copyright work without the permission of the Owner infringes his copyright. It is also an infringement to authorise others to infringe copyright, such as requesting a photocopying shop to make a copy of the book.

The person who infringes copyright may be sued by the owner for monetary compensation such as profits made from the infringement. The owner may also obtain a court order to prevent further infringement.

Where the infringement is intentional and the infringement is significant or gives the infringer a commercial benefit, the infringer may be fined in court up to $20,000 and/or jailed for not more than 6 months. Second or subsequent offences may attract the maximum fine of $50,000 and the longest imprisonment term of 3 years. An example of a significant infringement is the massive regular downloading of songs or movies using peer-to-peer networks.

A person who is found with 5 or more infringing copies of any work is presumed to be in possession of them for sale and may be fined $10,000/- for each infringing article or $100,000/- whichever is lower. He may also be jailed for not longer than 5 years. In both cases, the infringing copies or anything used to make the infringing copies may be destroyed or surrendered to the copyright owner.

NTU takes a serious view of copyright infringement by students and failure to comply with the Copyright Act is deemed to be a breach of the University's rules and regulations, which could result in disciplinary action.

The University advises all students to respect the copyright of all copyright owners' works and encourages the purchase of original textbooks, CDs, DVDs and/or other copyrighted materials that are required for your courses of study. The cost of these materials is insignificant compared to the penalties for copyright infringement.

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