Thursday, November 04, 2004

Music piracy law 

On 29 October, Andy Ho had written a commentary in The Straits Times on the amendment to the Copyright Act that made unauthorised downloading of music on a commercial scale a criminal act. In the commentary, he had supported the vague definition of “commercial scale” in the law, claiming that a more precise definition risks making it obsolete over time.

mr brown’s post on the piece drew a number of comments, including this one from Ivan on his own site, which pointed out that in the US, the copyright code is much more precise.

My own view is that vague laws throw the onus of interpreting the law on the police and the courts. I think that’s wrong. Laws are supposed to be made in the legislature.

When vague laws are left to the interpretation of the law enforcers and the judiciary, the resulting uncertainty discourages even fair activity while encouraging wasteful litigation.

Singapore has always been a good place for doing business in Asia precisely because of the rule of law; people and businesses are not subject to arbitrary prosecution. The amendment to the Copyright Act appears to be a step backward.


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