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Singapore proposes new website blocking system

The Ministry of Law is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the Copyright Law allowing rights holders to take judicial action against infringing websites

The bill, introduced earlier this week, would allow rights holders to apply for an order from the High Court to block access to sites deemed to be flagrantly infringing. Whether a site is a “flagrantly infringing online location” depends on several factors, including whether its primary purpose is to commit or facilitate infringement, whether the site contains directories or indexes of means to infringe on copyrighted material, whether the site has been blocked by other countries and whether the site owner demonstrates a general disregard for copyright.

In order to obtain a blocking order, the rights holder must also establish that the internet service provider knew of the infringing site. This requirement may be satisfied with a written notice to the ISP.

Similarly, the rights holder must serve a written notice to the operator of the targeted site, though the court may waive this requirement if it determines that the rights holder is unable to identify or locate the operator after reasonable attempts to do so.

Beyond the safe harbour

In the public consultation document, the Ministry of Law notes that rights holders can already request that an ISP remove access to infringing material under the safe harbour provisions. However, it said that the system is not effective because rights holders have found it too burdensome to sue ISPs who do not comply with such notices. The system in the proposed amendment, according to Ministry, is designed to be more efficient and avoids reliance on action by the ISP.

Comments on the proposed bill may be submitted to MLAW_Consultation@mlaw.gov.sg until April 21. The text of the proposed amendment can be found here.

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