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Copyright and intellectual property: Home

A guide to copyright and intellectual property

Google Advanced Search - search by usage rights

1. Perform a simple search. 2. Open Advanced search options under the wheel in the top right corner. 3. choose - Usage rights - Free to use or share. 

All right to copy?

It is becoming easier to source, download and upload film, text, images and music. But does the fact that it is easy to copy mean that it is alright to copy?

In this video, Donna and Joe are keen to enter a web design competition. Maybe it's not as simple as it first appears and their challenge becomes apparent.

Format shiftling

What is format shifting?

"Format shifting" is a term used to describe copying content from one technological format to another. Some examples of format shifting include making a copy of a music CD to store on an IPod, or making a DVD copy of a VHS tape of a film.

Are schools ever allowed to format shift?

A school is allowed to format shift copyright material (eg, a video to DVD or music tape to CD) if:

  1. The original copy of the material is lawful. This means that the school bought it, or it is a genuine (non-pirate) copy of the material that was given to the school.
  2. The copy is being made for the purpose of educational instruction (eg, a teacher needs to use the material in class or students need it to do homework).
  3. It is not possible to buy the material in the new format within a reasonable time.
  4. You do not use the format shifted copy in a way that would unreasonably prejudice the copyright owner (such as putting it on the Internet or giving students access to an electronic file that they could copy).


The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), a statutory board under the Ministry of Law since April 2001, is the lead government agency that advises on and administers intellectual property (IP) laws. They provide information, resources and programs for the general public, schools, businesses and IP professionals.

About copyright.

Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Other subject matter like films, sound recordings, broadcasts, cable programmes and published works are also protected.Copyright protects works like novels, computer programs, plays, sheet music and paintings. Generally, the author of a copyright work has the right to reproduce, publish, perform, communicate and adapt his work. Copyright is a form of property. It can be licensed or transferred.

Automatic protection.

In Singapore, an author automatically enjoys copyright protection as soon as he creates and expresses his work in a tangible form. There is no need to file for registration to get copyright protection.

 Ownership rights.

Authors enjoy the exclusive rights to

  • reproduce the work
  • publish the work
  • perform the work in public
  •  communicate the work to the public
  • make an adaptation of the work.

Seeking Permission from Copyright Owners

Consent is needed to do anything that only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do (e.g. reproduce the work). Sometimes, consent is indicated in the terms of permitted use, e.g. "for Private Use Only". Otherwise, one should seek consent. Merely acknowledging the source when one uses the work is insufficient.

Creative commons.

Some copyright owners across jurisdictions have adopted licences provided by Creative Commons (CC).

CC is a non-profit organisation that provides licences and tools to allow owners of copyright material to designate the conditions (or “attributes”) under which their material may be used worldwide.
CC licences are not an alternative to copyright. In fact, they apply existing copyright law.
Users of CC licensed material are permitted to use the material without the need to further seek explicit permission from the owner, so long as the use conforms to the licence attributes.

Fair dealing.

Under the provisions of the Copyright Act, copying the whole or a part of a copyright work is permissible as long as it is a 'fair dealing'. Factors that will be taken into account in deciding whether such copying is a fair dealing include the following:

  • purpose and character of the dealing, including whether such dealing is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
  • nature of the work;
  • amount and substantiality of the part copied taken in relation to the whole work;
  • effect of the dealing upon the potential market for, or value of, the work;
  • the possibility of obtaining the work within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.

Where the copying is for the specific purposes of research or study, it shall be taken to be a fair dealing as long as the copying limits are observed. For a published work of at least 10 pages, the copying limits are up to 10% of the number of pages or one chapter, whichever is the greater.

In other cases, fair dealings for the purposes of criticism, review or reporting current events would not constitute copyright infringement. In the case of criticism or review and the reporting of current events in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, a sufficient acknowledgment of the work is required.

Circumvention of Technological measures.

Due to the increasing ease with which digital copyright works can be reproduced and disseminated, in order for copyright works to be adequately protected, it has become necessary to render legal protection to technological measures employed by copyright owners to prevent unauthorised access or to restrict unauthorised use of their works.

Where technological measures are applied to copyright works in connection with the exercise of his copyright, the owner of a copyright work may take action against a person who knowingly circumvents a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work.


Copyright for Educators in Singapore

From the Intellectual Property Office Singapore IPOS


Send us your copyright question

YouTube Audio Library - copyright-free music you can use

Copyright Education from YouTube

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Australian songwriters and musicians speak out on the realities of life as an artist.

Copyright FAQ

Q. Is everything on the internet free to use?

A. No, works on the internet are governed by the same copyright rules.

Q. How much can I copy from the internet?

A. 10% of a website, by fair dealing provisions. But avoid plagiarism.....See our Academic Honesty Guide for more on that.

Q. What about video downloads, music and stuff?

A. don't get me started! You know the answer....

Q. Can I copy my CD for a friend?

A. No. Reproducing a work is the right of the copyright owner.

Q. Can I convert my dvds to MP3 files to put on my computer?

A. No, format-shifting is the right of the copyright owner.

Q. Can I do anything with my music and videos?

A. Play them!

Q. You seem to have copied from the IPOS website, isn't that a breach of copyright?

A. No, it is reproduced under fair dealing provisions and acknowledges the source.