Twelve Cupcakes displays articles about itself on website; SPH demands payment
July 6, 2012 by Terence LEE
Updated: 8th July, 12pm UTC+8
A celebrity couple, who runs food business Twelve Cupcakes, recently put up articles written about their business on Facebook, Twitter and the company’s website. However, Singapore Press Holdings, a media conglomerate in Singapore, soon demanded payment because they reproduced its articles online.
Daniel Ong, a former radio deejay, wrote a long Facebook note last night to complain about SPH’s actions. He then wrote a follow-up letter expounding on the incident. He said that the payment would add up to “almost S$3,000″ (US$2,360), a claim which SPH later denied.
SPH responded to Daniel in yesterday’s edition of The Straits Times. It reiterated the fact that under copyright law, interviewees and information providers don’t control the distribution rights to a piece of work. Authors do.
But while it said that displaying content on websites is against the law, framing actual articles up and displaying them at physical stores does not constitute copyright infringement.
In Daniel’s first note, he said that his wife, former beauty queen Jaime Teo, received an email from SPH demanding a payment of S$535 (US$422) per story. They were interviewed by the Straits Times, The New Paper, and a couple of magazines. Both newspapers belong to SPH.
He then added that when they took down the stories as a compromise, the couple was asked to pay a S$214 (US$169) “investigation fee”. If they don’t pay, they would still be “liable for infringement” for the next six years.
He was shocked by the requests.
“They write about us, we help spread the word about the article, they get more readers and readership. Everyone happy…no?” wrote Daniel.
While SPH made attempts to educate newsmakers about its copyright infringement policy through workshops and a newspaper ad, Daniel claimed that he did not see the ad, nor was he invited to the workshops.
He quipped in his first note that he plans to cancel his Straits Times subscription, but offered a compromise in the second:
“Should we bill you $214 for advertising this copyright infringement rule? And call it even? Over 70,000 people read my last post thanks to the power of united social media, I think it was more effective than your one-quarter page ad. Let’s shake hands, and move on shall we?” he wrote.
So far, his situation had been tweeted about by prominent local bloggers Mrbrown and Xiaxue. Serial entrepreneur Douglas Gan said on Facebook that he had faced the same situation.
“When ShowNearby had 200+ press coverages, (you) can imagine my horror when I saw the bill in my hands. You are lucky it’s just three coverage [sic],” he wrote.
From a legal standpoint, “copyright holders have the right to control reproduction of their intellectual property,” said Bryan Tan, director of Keystone Law.
But while copyright law in Singapore protects content creators, there are certain instances where third parties may distribute other’s works under “fair use”. While the Copyright Act doesn’t list specific instances, several factors weigh in:
(a) the purpose and character of the dealing, including whether such dealing is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes;
(b) the nature of the work or adaptation;
(c) the amount and substantiality of the part copied taken in relation to the whole work or adaptation;
(d) the effect of the dealing upon the potential market for, or value of, the work or adaptation; and
(e) the possibility of obtaining the work or adaptation within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.
Bryan recommended that companies can protect themselves legally by including a link to the original article, rather than reproducing it in entirety.
Read Daniel’s Facebook notes below:
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE