It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking less of the level of protection that digital copyright works attract, simply because the nature of the internet allows for speedy copying that can be done in private. As such, what may appear unacceptable in relation to print works suddenly seem less objectionable when it comes to digital works.
In this regard, it must also be noted that the borderless nature of the internet brings to the forefront a host of other issues, including the question of jurisdiction. There is hence a need to be careful as foreign copyright laws, different from Singapore’s and unfamiliar to us, may apply.
6.1 Computer programmes
The loading or copying of computer programmes is usually governed by licence agreements, entered into between the school and the copyright owner. Only designated persons responsible for carrying out such tasks (for example personnel from the Department of lnformation & Digital Technology Services or Departmental IT Chairpersons, and Technical Support Officers in charge of computer laboratories) are permitted to make copies of computer programmes or software. Other staff members are not to copy any computer programmes or software.
6.2 CD ROMs and Internet
From what has been said above, it is clear that text, pictures, sounds, moving images and so on are all protected by copyright. When such works or combinations of such works are put on the Internet or in a CD ROM they do not by that fact alone lose their copyright protection. The same rules apply to works in these mediums. For example, if it is a text-based work, the copying limits may be 5%, 5 pages, 10% or one chapter, depending on which defence(s) or statutory licence(s) you intend to rely on.
There are, however some issues specific to the internet:
A. Browsing of Materials on the Internet
Browsing per se does not constitute infringement because the copies made incidentally on the RAM, cache, screen and so on would be classified as transient copies. However, if you print the material or save the material into your hard disk or create some other more permanent copy of the work, such an act may constitute copyright infringement. Of course, if there is an express permission allowing for copying, you may do so provided you hold yourself to the conditions specified by the copyright owner.
B. Linking to material on the Internet
Copyright in the cyberspace remains a relatively new area, many aspects of which are untested. The school hence requires staff members to tread with caution.
As such, the following types of linking are not allowed except with permission from the copyright owner:
- Linking to the subsidiary pages of another's website, for example, linking directly to an article in the online version of the Straits Times.
- Linking to another's website in a manner that causes the material on that other website to be reproduced on the SP website (SP website refers to the websites of departments/schools as well). The reader then views the materials of the other's website within the SP website frame.
The only currently acceptable mode of linking is directing readers to the URL of the relevant homepage. Regardless, you should seek consent from the owner of the web page as a matter of good practice.