Sunday, October 11, 2009

ISPs' liability in Singapore

In Singapore, ISPs will be able to enjoy a certain level of immunity from copyright infringements claims. It is provided under the USSFA. USSFA is Unite States -Singapore free trade agreement, where both countries have agreed to their terms of protection for copyrighted works, performances and phonograms in a line. It also covers additional protection to the standards relevant and applicable to the digital environment.

There are defences to the service provider regarding to the copyright infringement which can be regarded as immunity for them. However, they are only can enjoy such immunity for the functions stated by Article 16.9.22(d) which consist:

• Transmitting, routing or providing connections for material without modification of its content, or the intermediate and transient storage of such material in the course thereof;

• Caching carried out through an automatic process;

• Storage at the direction of a user of material residing on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider; and

• Referring or linking users to an online location by using information location tools, including hyperlinks and directories.

The immunity applies only if the service provider does not initiate the chain of transmission of the material and does not select the material or its recipients. Except to the extent that a function described in 3.3 (d) in itself entails some form of selection.

Furthermore, Singapore Copyright Act was silent on whether network service providers were liable in situations where there was copying in a cache system and where copyright material was made available on the Internet on demand using a search engine. In an article written by Susanna H.S Leong, it states that;

"A significant amendment to the Copyright Act concerns that of the liability of ISPs. To address the issues relating to ISPs, a whole new Part IXA on 'Works, or other subject-matter, in electronic form' is introduced into the Copyright Act."

Susanna H.S Leong opined that section 193B states that the copyright in any material is not infringed by an ISP when it does any act in relation to an electronic copy of the material made available on a network if the -Transmission, routing and provision of connections (Sec 193B)
-System caching
(section 193C)

Moreover, this article also states that, if an ISP has to remove an electronic copy of any material from a network operated and controlled solely by him or if he has to disable access to the material on the network, he may defend himself under section 193D conjunctively with provisions under section 193C(2)(b) from any criminal liability under any rule of law with the condition that such event was done due to statutory declaration.

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