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Old 16th April 2007, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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IIPA Report (Special Mention - Singapore)

Pretty interesting.

View original PDF
http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2007/2007SPEC301SINGAPORE.pdf

INTERNATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ALLIANCE
2007 SPECIAL 301
SPECIAL MENTION
SINGAPORE

Copyright 2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance
2007 Special 301: Singapore
Issued February 12, 2007, Page 517-519

IIPA urges USTR to monitor developments in Singapore in 2007 with regard to the issues identified in this Special Mention filing.


COPYRIGHT LAW AND RELATED ISSUES

Implementation of FTA Provisions re Digital Audio Transmissions:

On August 15,2005, the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2005 went into force in Singapore, for the most part culminating that country’s efforts to bring its law into compliance with the copyright-related provisions of the U.S.–Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Unfortunately, the treatment of certain non-interactive digital audio transmissions in the amendment places Singapore in violation of its FTA obligations.

Article 16.4(2)(a) of the FTA provides in pertinent part:

[e]ach Party shall provide to authors, performers, producers of phonograms and their successors in interest the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the communication to the public of their works, performances, or phonograms, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works, performances, and phonograms in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.

Notwithstanding paragraph 10, a Party may provide limitations or exceptions to this right in the case of performers and producers of phonograms for analog or digital free over-the-air terrestrial broadcasting and, further, a Party may provide limitations with respect to other non-
interactive transmissions, in certain special cases provided that such limitations do not conflict with a normal exploitation of performances or phonograms and do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of such right holders.

While the FTA permits Singapore to provide limitations with respect to non-interactive transmissions, it does so only “in certain special cases provided that such limitations do not conflict with a normal exploitation of performances or phonograms and do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of such right holders.”

Section 107B of the Singapore Copyright Act exceeds the allowable discretion under the FTA by wholly exempting from protection certain non-interactive transmissions—notably, simultaneous retransmissions of a broadcast signal (so-called simulcasting). This exemption does not apply to a special case, and most certainly conflicts with the normal exploitation of a sound recording and prejudices the interests of the right holders.

Interestingly, some of the principal beneficiaries of this gap in protection are state-owned entities (such as MediaCorp, which is in turn owned by Temasek Holdings, the Singapore Government's investment arm).

MediaCorp relies on this provision to simulcast its radio broadcasts over the Internet to audiences all over the world, and as such refuses to obtain the multi-territory license for simulcasting. It is a matter of great importance that Singapore quickly addresses this FTA-incompatible provision.

Parallel Imports: Since Singapore’s law does not protect against parallel imports, there has been an influx into Singapore of pirated product masquerading as legitimate imports,especially pirate music imports from China, which are sold in small retail outlets and makeshift stalls in public housing estates.

Because of police reluctance to accord priority to such infringement, industry must resort to expensive and lengthy civil litigation in order to keep such pirate music products out of the market. These lawsuits are hampered by the requirement to prove that the retailer had the requisite knowledge that the discs were infringing, as well as the onus of proving infringement. Legislative proposals to shift the burden of proof in these cases were not included in the 2005 amendments. If Singapore persists in refusing to provide an exclusive right to authorize imports, it should act to reverse the burdens of proving knowledge in cases involving import piracy.


PIRACY AND ENFORCEMENT UPDATE IN SINGAPORE

There is increasing evidence of pirate optical media production in Singapore for export, and serious concerns about the Singapore government’s response to this evidence. There are 20 known optical disc plants in Singapore (with at least 99 production lines). Most of the plants (18 of 20) have been allocated SID Code and are regulated, but the concern remains that there is some pirate product being produced in Singapore for export.

In 2005, the police raided three optical disc plants, all involved in the export of pirated music and movie products seized in South Africa, among other countries, in 2003 and 2004.

Despite evidence of piracy, state prosecutors did not charge the plants, but instead issued written warnings. (The authorities have also yet to prosecute the exporter.) Furthermore, after declining to prosecute the plants criminally, the authorities also refused to grant recording industry representatives access to records seized from the plants (including production records), thus frustrating the ability of right holders to seek civil redress and damages for the massive infringements that occurred. Ironically, recording industry investigators were responsible for gathering most of the evidence upon which the plant raids were conducted in the first place.

In September 2005, a seizure at the Trendisc Technology plant involved 400,000 pirated movie VCDs, most of them dubbed in French, and intended for export to Africa. While the individuals involved were prosecuted and sentenced to jail in March 2006, the fine imposed against Trendisc itself in September 2006 amounted to only S$54,000 (about US$35,000).

Optical disc piracy cases, especially those of this magnitude and importance, should be prosecuted vigorously, and deterrent sentences should be imposed. The authorities, including the Attorney General’s Chambers, should provide better cooperation with right holders to provide access to evidence essential to support potential civil claims.

U.S. book publishing companies continue to suffer from illegal commercial photocopying. A few stores, located in the Queensway shopping center and well-known to the industry and to authorities, have become blatant repeat offenders. The industry needs more support from the Singapore Police in tackling the problems created by these sophisticated syndicates. Furthermore, a pervasive attitude of disrespect for copyright in books permeates Singapore’s university campuses. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Ministry of Education need to continue to play an active role in addressing this problem.

Book publishers have also experienced difficulties with the Subordinate Courts relating to the granting of search warrants for enforcement actions. These courts have imposed unreasonable requirements for granting search warrants against photocopy shops on several occasions in recent months. Requirements for such warrants should be streamlined, transparent, consistently applied and reasonable.

IIPA is pleased with the government response in other areas, including Internet piracy and end-user piracy of business software. Singapore continues to boast one of the lowest physical piracy rates in all of Asia (for example, the piracy level for recorded music stands at5%). Effective enforcement at the border and in retail and street markets has kept CD piracy in check. Entertainment software companies are also very satisfied with the record of the Singapore Government on enforcement for their products, particularly with the efforts of the local police.

Criminal cases involving industry product have resulted in the imposition of penalties and sentences that have acted as significant deterrents. The Government also has an excellent record of cooperation and partnership with the entertainment software industry on educational initiatives aimed at increasing the public's awareness of the importance of protection of copyright in interactive games. Singapore’s government also has taken strong action against significant online infringers of music and sound recordings, including prosecuting participants in illegal file sharing. Extensive media coverage of these cases has sent a clear message that such activity will not be tolerated.

Copyright 2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance
2007 Special 301: Singapore
Issued February 12, 2007, Page 517-519

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