What is copyright?
Copyright arises immediately upon creation. When an original work is expressed in the form of literature, music, computer programs, photos and paintings among others (“work” or “works”), copyright protection is provided. The Copyright symbol, “©”, is a notice by the owner that copyright exists. The absence of the symbol does not mean that the copyright owner has waived his rights.
Generally, the original author of the work (person who created the work) owns the copyright to the work. Under the Singapore Copyright Act (Cap. 63, 2006 Rev Ed) (the “Act”), a copyright owner has the exclusive right to do, or authorise others to do certain acts in relation to a work. A copyright owner has the right to publish, reproduce, communicate it to the public, perform it in pubic, or make an adaptation the work (collectively, “Exclusive Rights”). These different Exclusive Rights form the bundle of rights that we call copyright and they allow the owner to control the commercial exploitation of the work.
What is copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement occurs when a copyright owner’s Exclusive Rights are violated. A person will be held to infringe the copyright of the owner when he/she copies, distributes or communicates all or a substantial amount of the copyrighted work. This can be avoided by acquiring the consent or a license from the copyright owner to use the copyrighted work.
Simple examples of copyright infringement:
- Using copyrighted images taken off the internet for a poster to promote a school event without permission.
- Making unauthorised copies of various textbooks and assembling them as “course packs”.
- Uploading an entire e-book that was bought for personal use online to share it with students.
The Act allows a person to copy a “reasonable portion” of the work (not substantial) and this generally means 10% or 1 chapter when it comes to hardcopy books and 10% of the bytes or 10% of the number of words or 10% of the contents if in soft copy (electronic format). To avoid copyright infringement, everyone should keep to the limits allowed for copying or Fair Dealing guidelines under the Act.
Infringement of someone else’s copyright can be the subject of criminal proceedings. This might occur if the infringement was willful, significant and if the infringement was committed to obtain a commercial advantage.
In an educational setting, fair dealing allows copyrighted material to be copied under specific cases under the Act, and whether it is considered fair dealing will depend on the following factors:
- Purpose and character of the dealing, including whether such dealing is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
- Nature of the work or adaptation;
- Amount copied, relative to the whole work;
- Effect of the dealing upon the potential market for the work, and effect upon its value; and
- The possibility of obtaining the work or adaptation within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.
Fair dealing can be used for:
- The purpose of research and study;
- The purpose of criticism or review;
- The reporting of current events; or
- The purpose of judicial proceedings or professional advice.
Usage of open resources or any type of material from the internet
It is not wise to assume that all material available on the internet is free from copyright. Usage of any material found on the web still falls under the fair dealing guidelines under the Act. Please check the Terms and Conditions on the website first from where you are taking the material from, and act accordingly before reusing or copying the content.
All usage of resources (electronic and hardcopy) under PSB Academy is governed by a license agreement negotiated between Copyright Licensing and Administration Society of Singapore (“CLASS”), PSB Academy and various publishers and vendors. These agreements allow staff and students to access resources for non-commercial, educational and research purposes only. These agreements are legal binding contracts. It also protects all intellectual property owned by PSB Academy.
FAQs on Copyright
How much can I copy?
With reference to fair dealing guidelines and the license agreement by CLASS, you can copy up to 10% of a work or one chapter (whichever is the greater) of anything in print. You can also copy one whole article (e.g. from a journal, newspaper or magazine) or more than one article if it relates to the same subject matter. Copying anything more than the allowed limits require you to seek permission from the copyright owner or CLASS.
Audio and video from CD/DVD:
You can use only up to 10% of a sound recording or video footage.
All content found online in any form may be shared or copied (within fair dealing guidelines) if they fall within these conditions:
- The content is not found illegally and must be legitimately posted;
- The Terms and Conditions of the site clearly allow for such use;
- The source must be cited by attributing it to the author or creator as well as the URL; and
- There is no restricted access or protected by password.
It is important to note that one must never assume that anything free is legal when it comes to internet content.
I am not copying for profit. Will I still be infringing copyright?
Even if you are copying strictly for personal use, you will still be infringing copyright if you exceed the limits of fair dealing.
Is scanning considered copying?
As long the work is reproduced regardless of the format, it is considered as copying. Scanning a book or digitising it or taking photos of chapters and saving it to a computer is still copying. Bear in mind that reproducing it into another format does not protect you from infringement.