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Singapore parliament passes web-blocks

By | Published on Friday 11 July 2014

Singapore Law Ministry

Web-blocking is close to becoming a reality in Singapore after the island nation’s parliament approved new copyright legislation earlier this week.

As previously reported, while web-blocking has occurred in some countries without new laws being passed, like in the UK, in other jurisdictions new copyright rules have been required so that rights owners can force internet service providers to block access to sites that primarily exist to enable copyright infringement.

Lawmakers in Singapore started considering web-blocking proposals earlier this year and recently completed a public consultation. And this week the country’s parliament approved a new bill that will provide a framework via which rights owners will be able to secure web-blocks through the courts there. The country’s President just now needs to sign the new legislation, meaning the first injunctions could be applied for later this year.

The boss of the record industry’s global trade group IFPI Frances Moore welcomed the move, telling CMU: “The recording industry welcomes the fact that Singapore has joined the list of nations that consider website blocking to be a proportionate and effective tool to tackle digital piracy. Website blocking is an important way of reducing infringement and stimulating the development of a licensed digital music market. We urge policymakers in other countries to look at introducing measures similar to those set to be implemented in Singapore”.

Of course, web-blocking is not without its critics, who point out it’s easy to circumvent the blocks, though rights owners reckon that if they can force the search engines to also participate in the initiative (removing links to proxies that circumvent the blockades) then the process is sufficiently effective to be worth the bother.