| Singapore Urged to Regulate Piracy
March 18, 1998 (SINGAPORE) -- Piracy across all segments of the
industry has become more prevalent in the Singapore domestic
market and in exports, according to a report issued by the
International Intellectual Property Alliance.
|In its 1998 annual review of piracy and copyright infringement,
the international body urged the U.S. government to place
Singapore on its Priority Watch list. If adopted by the U.S.
Trade Representative when it submits a report to congress in late
April, the move could mean greater scrutiny of Singapore's trade
"Singapore should adjust its enforcement policies to respond to
the greater investigative challenge posed by organized rings
engaged in the manufacture and distribution of digital pirate
products," said the report.
In its latest survey, the alliance showed that U.S. copyright
owners for motions pictures, music recordings, computer programs
and books lost as much as US$124.9 million in 1997, more than
double the US$59.1 million in 1996. The private alliance consists
of 1,350 copyright owners from the film, music, software and book
publishing industries in the United States. It includes most
major entertainment, publishing and software companies.
The alliance showed that the highest level of piracy was seen in
computer entertainment programs, with up to 68 percent of all
software being pirated, creating losses of about US$58.1 million
for U.S. makers. The second biggest category was computer
programs for business applications, accounting for losses of
US$45.5 million or about 56 percent of piracy in the domestic
market, said the alliance.
The agency said that piracy levels in motion pictures and music
recordings were lower at 15 percent and 30 percent, with both
accounting for about US$20.3 million in losses for U.S. makers.
While acknowledging that Singapore had made great strides in
combating piracy in the late 1980s, the report said the country
is now "ill-equipped to deal with the resurgence of piracy."
The agency said: "Perhaps, most urgently, tighter regulation of
Singapore's optical media production and mastering facilities is
needed, lest the huge overcapacity be increasingly devoted to
Singapore, a technological leader in the region, should ratify
and implement the World Intellectual Property Organization
Copyright Treaty as soon as possible, said the report.
In the area of computer piracy, the agency said: "Singapore is in
the midst of an epidemic of software piracy. As in many Asian
markets, pirate products at retail prices consists increasingly
of compilation CD-ROMs that may contain a diverse menu of
business and entertainment applications from a number of
different copyright owners."
A stronger regulatory regime, and political will to implement it
aggressively are needed if the government is to assert enough
control over CD-ROM production facilities to deter, detect and
punish pirate production, said the agency.
Additional legislation is now needed to cure deficiencies which
the recent amendments don't adequately address, such as outlawing
the traffic in bottled recordings, and to fix some new problems
which the amendments have created, said the agency.
The agency said Singapore made great strides in January this year
to enact a comprehensive copyright amendment bill. But more needs
to be done to enforce copyrights in Singapore.
The government needs to address the issue of a compulsory
licensing system under which foreign works can be translated
and/or reprinted in Singapore consistent with international
(Joseph Rajendran, Asia BizTech Correspondent)