Singapore to review legality of VPN technology under the Copyright Act


The authorities of Singapore are reviewing the legality of virtual private network (VPN) technology, a service that allows users disguise their computers’ locations to watch restricted foreign media content.

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and Intellectual Property office of Singapore (IPOS) on Tuesday announced a public consultation to gather feedback on the country’s copyright regime over the next two months. The proposed changes to the copyright laws are meant to keep pace with technological developments, which include permission to use text for data analysis even if the copyright owner could not be identified or contacted for consent.

The ministry said in a press statement,

Technological developments in the past decade have led to immense changes in how copyrighted works are created, distributed, accessed, and used. Copyright law must keep pace with modern developments so as to support creativity and innovation. This review seeks to ensure our copyright regime continues to provide an environment that benefits both creators and users.

The Copyright Act was last amended in 2014 and at present, the law is silent on VPN technology. As part of the consultation, the authorities are seeking a review of current exceptions that allow for circumventions of “technological protection measures”, which act like digital locks to restrict the access or use of copyrighted works. Existing exceptions include educational uses of audio-visual works and assistive technologies in e-books.

Other proposed changes to the Act include a new copyright exception which allows teachers and students of non-profit schools to use copyrighted material without the need to seek permission, regardless of the media or platform of instruction. Daren Tang, the Chief Executive of Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos), who are involved in the public consultation, told the Straits Times,

There are some concerns that bypassing geo-blocks could infringe copyright.

Tang though said that Singapore supported parallel imports, which are facilitated by VPNs, according to the article.



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