MinLaw, Ipos seek public feedback on exceptions allowing copyrighted works to be reproduced

SINGAPORE -The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) on Monday (Sept 7) launched a public consultation to seek feedback on whether existing exceptions that allow for the digital reproduction of copyrighted works, for purposes such as teaching and fixing key system software, are still relevant.

The public consultation will run for four weeks until Oct 2, and is part of a periodic review of the Copyright (Excluded Works) Order (EWO) to take into account the fast pace of technological change, MinLaw said.

The EWO was last reviewed in 2017, and the existing version will expire on Dec 31.

Copyrighted works are typically protected by technologies or devices that prevent, for example, users from making unauthorised copies of a movie.

The Copyright Act prohibits users from circumventing such protection measures or from selling products and services that allow others to do so

“However, in practice, (such measures) may unintentionally restrict legitimate and non-infringing acts,” said a Minlaw spokesman.

For instance, individuals with visual or physical disabilities that make reading difficult or impossible may require assistive technologies that convert text into audio. This is allowed under the current exceptions.

Other exceptions under the EWO include the use of copyrighted works when investigating or fixing cyber-security flaws, and when replacing or repairing essential system software.

The public consultation is meant to seek feedback from creators and users of copyrighted works, as well as members of the public, on whether the exceptions should be retained, expanded or limited when the EWO is updated, and if additional exceptions are necessary.

Members of the public can submit their views online at this website or via e-mail to with the subject or header “2020 Public Consultation on the Copyright (Excluded Works) Order”.

MinLaw and Ipos released a 70-page report last January that proposed 16 changes to the Copyright Act, including making two new exceptions designed to improve access to copyrighted works for purposes of public interest.

The first was to allow non-profit schools and their students to use free online resources for teaching purposes. The existing exceptions generally cover only copying a portion of a work.

The report also suggested that a new exception be made for those who use automated techniques, such as machine learning to analyse text, data and other content to generate insights.

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