SINGAPORE: Proposed changes to the Copyright Act could give industries involved in data analytics a leg up and make it easier to create and build on innovations, industry players told Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Jan 18).
The Law Ministry on Thursday released a report outlining proposed changes to the Act after a three-year review and public consultations.
Among the proposed changes: A new exception to allow users to copy lawfully accessed data for data analysis.
Data analytics companies mine and analyse data to create business solutions and tailor customer experiences. The data they use come from sources ranging from users’ browsing and buying behaviour online to conversations with peers and companies over social media.
But users or companies who copy data for analysis could risk infringing copyright, as this typically requires large-scale copying of works which may be protected by copyright.
For example, a user may have a subscription to a publication which allows access for reading. The proposed exception would also allow the user not just to read, but to copy sections of the publication for mining and analysing its content.
“We are in the business of data - it’s one of the most precious assets in the 21st century, and we have to be mindful we’re mining it within the right legal and regulatory frameworks the Government has set up," said chief solutions officer at Lynx Analytics, Amit Akhelikar.
“The first is around consent – we make sure the data we’re using it has user consent. If we bring in third-party data to supplement that analysis we make sure it’s covered under the copyright policy ... if it is under the fair policy usage we give proper credit where it’s due.”
According to the Law Ministry’s report, there was “majority support” for introducing the exception, with stakeholders such as creators, academics and industry associations acknowledging the value of such a move, which could unlock “insights that can benefit society at large”.
Similar to open-source software developed and distributed for public use, it could also “democratise data”, creating new business opportunities and user benefits, said Mr Akhelikar.
“Data currently exists within well-defined boundaries of organisations within certain copyright policies of where it’s created and stowed,” Mr Akhelikar said. “Having a fair usage policy around it would make it accessible to multiple companies that can be applied to any industry.”
Another startup that stands to reap the benefits is property portal 99.co, which collects and analyses publicly available data, such as from Government sources, to build price prediction models and market analysis tools for users.
“There will definitely be new data that would otherwise not be available to us in the past due to copyright or other reasons,” said its chief architect Eric Ng.
While he hopes the move will spawn more innovation across industries using big data and data analytics, Mr Ng says one obstacle remains: “Most companies don’t want to share their data as having data is a competitive edge over their competitors.”
“What I would be interested to see is unrelated industries opening up their data to help our industry,” said Mr Ng. “For example, we have the Land Transport Authority providing transport data, but there are also sources of transport data we could use. If those companies were to open up their data that would definitely help us, even though we’re not direct competitors.”
“If more companies (share) these data, the whole entire nation will improve as a whole, as everybody can now benefit from one another’s work ... It’s more of moving the whole industry rather than moving yourself."