Singapore

Law Ministry proposes easier way for copyright holders to block infringing websites

Law Ministry proposes easier way for copyright holders to block infringing websites
Singapore's Subordinate Courts on Nov 1, 2013. Photo: Reuters
Ability for rights holders to take action without suing ISPs will be ‘more efficient’ in fight against online piracy
Published: 2:02 PM, April 7, 2014

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is proposing amendments to the Copyright Act which will make it easier for content rights holders to have infringing websites blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) here.

Under the current Act, rights holders can issue a “take-down” notice to ISPs requesting they disable access to or remove infringing material from its network. But if ISPs choose to not comply, rights holders will need to sue them for copyright infringement or seek an injunction against ISPs to do so.

MinLaw’s proposed amendments will allow rights holders to apply directly to the Courts for injunctions to prevent access to sites that “clearly and blatantly infringe copyright without having to sue the ISPs”.

The Law Ministry said in a press release that this judicial process is expected to be more efficient and avoids implicating the ISPs unnecessary.

The proposal also suggests having a non-exhaustive list of factors to help define what is an egregious site, such as if the primary purpose of the site is to commit or facilitate copyright infringement.

TODAY reported last month on a study showing that 74 per cent of Singaporeans aged 19-24 actively engaged in digital piracy, showing an increasingly blasé attitude about respecting copyright.

Yet, Singapore will not be taking the path of other countries — where government-appointed bodies block sites upon application from rights-holders or where a graduated response system is taken, in which Internet users are notified of their infringing activities by ISPs then penalised if they continue those activities after repeated notification — as these measures are “too intrusive on Internet users”, said the ministry.

The changes are expected to come into effect by the end of the year if the amendments are passed.

MinLaw is launching a public consultation today (April 7) on the proposed amendments and the public can view the draft Bill and submit feedback until April 21. Details are provided at http://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/news/public-consultations.html