Sharing a video online? Soon you'll need to credit the creator
Under the current Copyright Act, creators and performers do not have the right to be identified when their work or performance is used.
Sharing or posting a video of a quirky dance performance online in Singapore, or a photo of a painting from an art gallery here, will soon require the performer or creator to be identified and credited, under proposed changes to the law.
This applies not just to commercial entities and public figures, but general members of the public, too, according to changes to the Copyright Act tabled by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in Parliament yesterday.
The requirement does not apply to past public uses of such works. It will apply to future uses only after most provisions in the amendments come into force - if they are passed in Parliament - in November.
The attribution has to be done in a clear and reasonably prominent manner, said MinLaw.
There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, if the work is in the background of a photo, it does not need to be credited.
Some legal experts believe that the changes are not meant to go after the man in the street. Still, there are concerns they could stifle some public conversations.
Under the proposed changes, if a person does not credit the creator of a work that he uses publicly, the creator can ask to be identified. And if the person refuses to do so, the creator can take legal action to get credited or have the work taken down, as well as seek financial compensation from the person if potential income loss can be shown.
Works that require crediting include literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, which can include paintings and sculptures.
Attribution will be needed for performances such as dances and book or poetry recitals.
Under the current Copyright Act, creators and performers do not have the right to be identified when their work or performance is used. They have the right only to stop their work or performance from being falsely attributed to another person.
Asked why members of the public are required to identify creators, a MinLaw spokesman told The Straits Times that "it is important for the general public to identify our creators and performers wherever such information is available".
"This accords creators and performers the respect and recognition they deserve. This is especially important for amateur creators, or those who are just starting out and who may not have commercialised their works yet," she said.
Mr Adrian Tan, head of intellectual property at law firm TSMP Law Corporation, said that the changes are meant to address problems in the commercial world, where businesses profit from the creative efforts of artists, without acknowledging them.
He said that for members of the public who, for instance, share photos of artwork on Facebook with friends, it is unlikely that the creators will come down on them to get credited. "Ordinary social media users can carry on doing what they've been doing," he said.
And even if the creator contacts them to ask to be credited, there is generally no harm and it does not take a lot of effort for people to do so, Mr Tan added.
"It's highly unlikely that we will be liable to pay financial compensation in such a situation," he said.
But if the work goes viral and is not credited, the creator could potentially lose money and business opportunities, Mr Tan said. This gets compounded if the person sharing the uncredited work is a public figure, such as an influencer with millions of followers.
If there is still no attribution despite requests, creators have valid reasons to take legal action, he said.
But there are some concerns.
Professor David Tan from the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law said that the crediting requirement could cause some people to be afraid of the potential legal implications of not attributing, such as being sued.
This could mean "members of the public end up sharing fewer images and videos on social media, thus chilling social communication", said Prof Tan.
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.