Copyright is an intellectual property right. The person who owns the copyright (and this could include the author or creator or the publisher) has the exclusive right to stop others from copying or reproducing his work. All books, magazines, plays, musical scores, sculptures, paintings, drawings, sound recordings, films, television and radio broadcasts, cable programmes and computer programs are capable of enjoying copyright protection in Singapore.
You cannot infringe on another person's copyright by reproducing or making an adaptation of the work. A common form of infringement by students is making a photocopy of the owner's work.
If you photocopy, reproduce or make an adaptation of a copy of the owner's work without the owner's permission, you have infringed on his copyright unless you copy under the following circumstances:
- You copy for the purpose of your own self-study or research. In this case, you may copy up to 100% of an article in a periodical publication, or up to 10% of a book if the book contains 10 or more pages, or up to one chapter if the book is divided into chapters. If you copy an electronic edition of a book whether found in a website on the Internet or in a computer diskette, you may copy up to 10% of the total number of bytes in that electronic edition or up to one chapter if the book is divided into chapters.
- You copy by hand for the purpose of a course of education, which you are undergoing; you may copy up to 100% of the work.
- You make a recording of television or sound broadcasts or cable programmes for your private and domestic use.
- You copy a work after its copyright protection has expired. In the case of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, the duration of Singapore copyright protection is generally the lifetime of the author plus 70 years, after which the work is in the public domain.
- You own a genuine (i.e. not pirated) copy of a computer program or an adaptation of a computer program, and you make a reproduction of it as a backup of the original.
If you infringe or intend to infringe copyright, the owner of the copyright can apply for a court injunction against you to prevent you from committing any or any further infringing act and sue you for damages to compensate him for his loss.
The copyright owner can also seek an order to make you pay over the profits that you have made from the infringing act.
If you sell or hire out an infringing article, you can be fined up to $10,000 for each infringing article or $100,000, whichever is the lower, or sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
If you possess 5 or more infringing copies of any work, you are presumed to possess such copies for the purpose of sale.
The court may also order you to hand over to the copyright owner all infringing copies of his work for disposal. The court also has power to authorise the police to conduct searches on premises where the court suspects infringing copies are kept.
Take note of copyright infringement when you are photocopying materials.