Vital step towards respecting copyright laws on the Internet

Vital step towards respecting copyright laws on the Internet

I commend the Government's proposal to tweak the Copyright Act, easing the legal process for compelling Internet service providers to block copyright-infringing websites ("Proposed law could make ISPs block piracy websites"; Tuesday).

Under the proposed law, rights holders can apply to the High Court to block Internet sites, without having to first prove that the ISPs have infringed their rights.

ISPs are generally on the side of rights holders, and the proposed amendment corrects the current anomaly.

A rights holder has to provide ample material evidence to support his application. ISPs and owners of affected websites have a procedural right to challenge any subsequent injunction imposed.

The initiative should not be wrongly interpreted as a restriction on Internet use or censorship; it is strictly about pursuing those who violate intellectual property rights.

The move will help stop users who illegally share, stream or download music, movies, broadcasts and television shows.

One may argue that it will not be a fully effective measure as some users would go out of their way to circumvent the technological barriers.

In a similar vein, we have strict anti-littering laws and yet there are still litterbugs.

In tandem with the proposed legislation, there will be public education and increased avenues and ease for consumers to access the creative content they seek.

It is logical for the creators and publishers of music, films and books to be rewarded for their efforts. I would welcome any arguments on why people should not pay for creative content.

Of course, independent artists, especially emerging ones, can still offer their music for free online, such as through their own webpages, as part of their marketing campaigns. However, they should still be allowed to maintain their right to decide what to do with their works in the future.

This crackdown on piracy is an important step towards respecting copyright laws on the Internet; it injects clarity into a complex process of enforcing rights in the online world.

Edmund Lam (Dr)

Chief Executive Officer & Director

Composers and Authors Society of Singapore

This article was published on April 11 in The Straits Times.

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