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Is There Hope for AI Companies in Singapore?

AI companies in Singapore face a significant challenge: potential copyright infringement. The Copyright Act of Singapore, however, provides a possible defense through computational data analysis. This defense, alongside the principle of fair use, could be crucial for companies utilizing machine learning.

Understanding Machine Learning and Copyright Concerns

Machine learning algorithms often learn from content scraped from third-party websites. This content might be copyrighted, and its unauthorized use could lead to copyright infringement. Therefore, AI companies must navigate these legal complexities carefully.

What is Computational Data Analysis?

The Copyright Act of Singapore defines computational data analysis as:

  1. Identifying, extracting, and analyzing information or data from a work or recording using a computer program.
  2. Using the work or recording to improve the functioning of a computer program by treating it as an example of a particular type of information or data.

Conditions for the Defense

To invoke the defense of computational data analysis, several conditions must be met:

  1. Purpose: The copied protected work must be used solely for computational data analysis.
  2. Lawful Access: The user must have lawful access to the material copied (the first copy).
  3. Limited Distribution: The user cannot supply the copy to anyone else except for verification of results or collaborative research related to the analysis.
  4. Non-Infringing First Copy: The first copy must not be an infringing copy.
  5. Lawful access: the user obtained the first copy without breaching any terms of use or circumventing paywalls. If an AI company bypasses paywalls or violates terms of use to access the first copy, it does not have lawful access. Consequently, the company cannot rely on the computational data analysis defense.


AI companies in Singapore must diligently review and adhere to the legal requirements to leverage this defense effectively. Ensuring lawful access and compliance with the Copyright Act is essential for mitigating the risk of copyright issues in the rapidly evolving field of AI.

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