Singapore: MCCY considering enhanced intellectual property protection for Singapore's symbols

In brief

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) is considering putting in place enhanced intellectual property protection for Singapore's symbols. This development follows the recent plagiarism controversy involving an Indian composer's claims that he owned the lyrics and tune of a song that is almost identical to Singapore's National Day tune, "Count on Me, Singapore".


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In 2020, the MCCY initiated a review of the rules governing use of national symbols and convened a citizens' workgroup to seek the public's feedback on the same. Currently, Singapore's intellectual property laws do not provide for any blanket protection over national songs. However, the Singapore Trade Marks Act (Cap. 332) does impose various prohibitions against the registration of national symbols such as the Singapore Crest and Presidential Coat of Arms, amongst others. While the recent controversy over the alleged plagiarism of Singapore's National Day tune "Count on Me, Singapore" demonstrates the potential need for more robust legal avenues for protecting the nation's symbols, it remains to be seen how the Singapore Parliament will strike the delicate balance between protecting the nation's interests and preserving freedom of expression (particularly, of patriotism).

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