Changes to Singapore's Copyright Act

By Pyari Chopra


Based off Singapore Legal Advice and Bird & Bird


Copyright law in Singapore is governed by the Copyright Act (CA). On the 21 November 2021, the amended Copyright Act came into force. The new Copyright Act maintains the protections afforded to Copyright holders in Singapore and updates the copyright regime in accordance with changes in the creation, distribution and usage of content. In particular, Parliament emphasised the creation of new rights and remedies for creators, to ensure that the copyright regime continues to incentivise creativity.[1]


The major changes to the Copyright Act are follows:


1. Creators or performers will be conferred a new right to be identified when their materials are used in public.

This right was introduced for the purpose of allowing creators to build their reputation and incentivises the creation of new works.[2]


Identification in this case must be ‘clear and reasonably prominent’,[3] and must appear in each copy of the work or performances. An author must be identified in the way that they wish to be identified so long as they have made their wishes known, or if it is reasonable in the circumstances to identify the author in that way.[4] Where a work concerns multiple creators or performers, a group name can be used if each of them is sufficiently identified by using the group name.[5] However, if this is not the case, each creator must be individually identified.[6]


The right to be identified does not apply in certain situations, such as

  • Computer programs for authorial works[7]

  • Authorial works made in the course of the author’s employment, or when the author’s employer is the first owner of the copyright[8]

  • When the identity of the author is not known and cannot reasonably be ascertained[9]

  • Certain ‘permitted uses’[10]


2. Creators of commissioned work, rather than the commissioning party, will own the copyright by default unless otherwise prescribed by the contract[11]

The position prior to this Act was that the commissioning party was the default copyright-holder. However, this change was introduced to enable creators to be in a better position to negotiate with the commissioning parties and to further showcase and commercialise their work for other purposes.[12]


3. New exceptions to the copyright owner’s rights are created

Such exceptions are known as ‘permitted uses’. The new permitted uses were created by Parliament to facilitate the reasonable availability of copyright works for uses that benefit society and support innovation


If use of a copyright work falls under ‘permitted use’, a licence is not required for such use.


The new permitted uses are as follows:

  • Use for computational data analysis, so long as the copyrighted work is lawfully accessed[13]

  • Use of freely available internet materials for educational activities by non-profit schools so long as the source is acknowledged[14]


4. Certain exceptions can no longer be restricted by contract

Contracting parties are no longer free to exclude or modify the following copyright exceptions:

  • Use of work for computational data analysis[15]

  • Use of work in judicial proceedings or for legal advice[16]

  • Use of work for the functions of galleries, libraries, archives and museums[17]



[1] Ministry of Law, ‘Legislative Changes to Strengthen Singapore’s Copyright regime’ (Press releases, 6 July 2021) <https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/news/press-releases/2021-07-06-legislative-changes-to-strengthen-singapores-copyright-regime>

[2] Ministry of Law, ‘Legislative Changes to Strengthen Singapore’s Copyright regime’ (Press releases, 6 July 2021) <https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/news/press-releases/2021-07-06-legislative-changes-to-strengthen-singapores-copyright-regime>

[3] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 393(4), S 373(4)

[4] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 372(2)

[5] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 372(3)

[6] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 371

[7] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 375

[8] Ibid

[9] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 394

[10] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 396

[11] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 135

[12] Ministry of Law, ‘Legislative Changes to Strengthen Singapore’s Copyright regime’ (Press releases, 6 July 2021) <https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/news/press-releases/2021-07-06-legislative-changes-to-strengthen-singapores-copyright-regime>

[13] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 244

[14] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 196

[15] Copyright Act 2021 (Singapore) (No. 22/2021),S 187

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid