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Introduction to Singapore Copyright Act

Singapore's new Copyright Act (2021) came into force on 21 November 2021. It replaced the Copyright Act 1987 (Cap. 63). The Act introduced several changes to enhance the protection of copyright given technological developments, new rights, and remedies for creators to protect and monetise the creation of their works. It also clarifies and expands certain educational and fair use exceptions1 for users, allowing copyright works to remain reasonably available for the benefit of society.

Copyright Act 2021: Factsheet by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore provides more information on the changes in the new law.

Using Images

All images, regardless of format, are protected by copyright. According to the Copyright Act, if you use an image without proper authorisation from the copyright owner, you would infringe the copyright in a work. To use images owned by others in your assignments and project work without violating the law, it is suggested that you:

Obtain Permission from the Image’s Copyright Owner
Ownership of copyright for images is separate from the copyright for text materials. You should always obtain permission from the copyright owner before using the images in your assignments and project work. If you cannot trace the owner of an image or the terms of its licence, choose another image.

Check the Image’s Terms of Use
For images like clipart and photographs found on the Web, you should check whether the creator has indicated the terms of use. On the Terms of Use page, the creator may stipulate whether you are allowed to reproduce the images and the purposes you can use them for, such as for non-commercial purposes only.

Use Images in the Public Domain
The public domain consists of works that have either been created to be freely usable by the public or those works where the copyright period has expired. Use of these public domain works is, therefore, totally unrestricted.
You can use Google’s Advanced Image Search feature, which allows you to search for "free to use" images available on Google's database of images at for such public domain images.
Even if an image is free to share and use, check the terms of use on the website or the "Read Me" files to ascertain the legality of your usage. If no terms of use are available for an image obtained from the Web, it should not be reproduced without the copyright owner's permission except in the case of fair use. Whether there is copyright infringement depends on whether a substantial portion of the image has been copied.

Use Creative Commons-Licenced Images
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that provides authors and creators with licenses to give them a legal alternative to copyright. Creative Commons licenses (CCL) can offer creators the rights to use the works of others subject to the conditions specified in each CCL. Details on these licenses can be found at

Use Open Access Resources
Apart from searching websites that offer images with CCLs, you can try searching websites that provide license-free “stock” images, designs, and photographs that are freely available for non-profit purposes. Below are some of such resources:

As terms and conditions may change over time, please check whether attribution is needed for the respective sites before use.

Using 123RF Images [for TP staff]

If you are a TP staff, you may access 123RF for over 100 million royalty-free stock images and vectors for your work. Please refer to the licensing policy for all usages. TP Library has subscribed to the Standard License (Credits & Subscription).

Attribution for images downloaded from 123RF is optional but recommended for most uses. It is mandatory for editorial use (e.g. printed or online publications) or if the image indicates "For Editorial Use Only":

Attribution can be in the form of Images: 123RF or Images [Photographer name]/123RF. This can be inserted at the end of the document/presentation/slides/annex or displayed alongside the individual image as shown below:

1 The following screenshot Illustrates how the exception for educational uses applies:

[click on image to view full screen]

From "Factsheet on Copyright Act 2021" by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, 2021. Copyright 2021 by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

Using Charts, Graphs & Tables

Tables, charts, and graphs that are merely representations of facts and data but lack creativity or originality are not covered by copyright. The logic is that facts and data are discovered, not created. However, a table, chart, or graph resulting from intellectual effort is copyright protected. 
Even when dealing with non-copyright-protected tables, charts, and graphs from a single source, you would need to seek the permission of the copyright owner of the source if you are reproducing substantial numbers of such tables, charts, or graphs. 


Although some works in the public domain or those free to use might not require you to attribute, giving credit to the creator and citing your source is always recommended. See this guide, APA Citation Style: Images for citing images.

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