A father, an actor, a comedian.. Adrian Pang is many things rolled into one.
You may have seen him in DBS’ Sparks or on stage for Pangdemonium’s Falling, which tugs at the heart strings and at its core speaks of the consequences and complexities of unconditional love for an autistic child. He is also a producer who is subject to the whims and fancies of Singapore’s creative industry. Our regime has, for the past 20 years, been tilting away from underscoring the rights of artists, authors and musicians who toil away tirelessly to express their creativity in a variety of forms.
Adrian understands the importance of respecting another’s work: “As a theatre producer, if I acquire the rights to produce a certain piece of work, I know I cannot mess with the integrity of the play. If I want to do anything different I have to seek the permission of the author.” In securing the rights to localize Falling (to transpose it from an American context to a Singapore context), Adrian sought the permission from the original playwright who was most happy to allow it and was glad that he checked in with her first.
“It’s people’s livelihood. The fairest minimum is to credit someone’s work.” – Adrian
Not many people in the local creative industry are as respectful as Adrian. There have been many instances where a young music producer’s work goes un-credited in films or where an amateur photographer’s work is published but not properly attributed by media outlets.
What next — write nasty letters or sue these perpetrators? That is far from what happens in reality. Legal fees are exorbitant and for creatives who are true to their craft, they would much rather devote their cause to further their craft than to be embroiled in a petty lawsuit that saps up precious time and energies.
It is perhaps not a bad thing that the Ministry of Law, together with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), is looking to review Singapore’s copyright laws. The large scale copyright review was announced this morning at IP Week 2016 by Senior Minister of State Ms Indranee Rajah.
Amongst other things, the Ministry of Law intends to strengthen our moral rights regime to make it mandatory for users to credit a creator’s works. This is a shift away from Singapore’s current model, where a creator could only sue a user for falsely attributing works (e.g. if one wrongly attributes a piece of work to Picasso, when it was actually by Chen Wen Hsi).
“I think the more structure there is that is put in place, the clearer it is for everyone. Better than everyone groping in the dark.” – Adrian
Other changes proposed include shifting the default position of commissioned works. Based on the past regime, when companies engaged freelance videographers to cover an event and where the corresponding contract is silent about IP rights, the default position is that the IP rights belonged to the company. With these proposed changes, the Ministry of Law hopes to re-balance creators’ rights by giving them default IP rights ownership over the works they have created.