In pursuit of her love of music, Mary, a TV show producer employed by Singapore Television Company Pte Ltd (“STC”), has come up with an idea for a Singaporean pop-music contest where contestants would perform songs written by Singaporean composers and lyricists.
Mary has decided to call the contest SmashPOP Singapore, and has designed a logo which very much looks like a Merlion singing with a Power Puff Girl. As there is a live audience polling component for the programme, she asks her boyfriend Alfred, also an employee of STC, to write an app that can be downloaded by audience members to cast their votes for their favourite contestants. Alfred’s app is ground breaking as it can detect subtle voter behaviours when casting their votes and predict their future voting trends. STC applies for a patent over this.
SmashPop Singapore proves to be phenomenally popular and dominates the audience ratings. However, just before the contest finals, Dennis, a songwriter, finds out that one of the contestants will be performing his song. Dennis is very angry that his permission was not sought for this, and launches a hate campaign on Facebook criticising STC for profiteering
from his music.
The management of STC is very concerned and decides to fire Mary and cancel the finals. Mary, now unemployed, decides to revive the series on her own. She persuades Alfred to write an app after office hours so that she can launch an online version of the competition known as SmashPop@Singapore, and also incorporating the audience voting software code that Alfred had earlier written.
To avoid similar complaints from songwriters such as Dennis, she believes that she can use music and lyrics which are freely available on the Internet. To overcome the lack of production facilities, the new competition format requires contestants to upload videos of their performances, which are then streamed to all other audience members via her app. Mary encourages contestants to be creative in their videos, and some contestants submit remixes of existing music videos.
Please answer the following questions:
(a)(i) Identify, classify, and differentiate the different types of intellectual property rights that may be infringed by Mary’s actions, recognising where IP rights exist or are created and analysing the most appropriate forms of IP protection applicable to each subject matter. For each of these types of rights, discuss and explain how Singapore law defines infringement of these rights, and which of Mary’s actions may specifically constitute infringement of these rights and who may assert such infringement claims.
(ii) Identify, differentiate, and analyse the legal remedies that the courts in Singapore may award in the event that there is a finding of intellectual property infringement. In your answer, you should explain the nature of these remedies and differentiate between them, also identifying the sources of law establishing these remedies.
(50 marks in total, not more than 500 words).
(b) The online competition is launched and attracts a niche following. Mary approaches her rich uncle Thomas to invest in the project, and depending on how much he invests, Mary is prepared to offer to sell all her intellectual property rights in the project, or a licence thereto. Classify and explain the differences between intellectual property licences and assignments, and having regard to the risks of infringement you have identified in (a) above, analyse and demonstrate, having regard to the definition of “infringement”, the nature of licences and assignments, and recognising the nature of the intellectual property rights in issue, whether Thomas should seek a licence or assignment (50 marks, not more than 500 words).
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