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  • Legal to shoot buildings in Singapore?


    Question:

    Legal to shoot buildings in Singapore?

    Today a client ask me to go shoot some stock photos of buildings.

    Do we need any permission to shoot buildings? Or no need? Is it copyrightable?

    This is an interesting question that comes up from time to time in the lifetime of a photographer.

    Especially in "rules-filled" Singapore, where there is a popular misconception that there are rules for everything, and that everything is prohibited unless expressly authorised.

    This is the "No-U-Turn" syndrome that has unfortunately pervaded the Singapore culture today. For those who have not heard of it, the No-U-Turn syndrome comes from the fact that on Singapore roads, you are not allowed to make a U-Turn unless you specifically see a sign allowing this. This is what can be termed the permissive system; ie if there is nothing to specifically say you can do it, you cannot do it.

    However, the criminal justice system is Singapore is a prohibitive rather than a permissive system. In other words, if there is no law which says that something is illegal, it is legal.

    The civil system is similar; if there is no law which gives you a cause of action against someone for an act, then there is no way you can stop the person from doing that act, or claim damages from that person.

    For example, there is currently no established cause of action to claim damages against someone who say, takes a photograph of you in public.

    Back to the present question at hand, under the Copyright Act, buildings do enjoy copyright. However, there is a specific exemption under Section 64 which states that the copyright in a building is not infringed by the making of a photograph of the building.

    Hence, for those "nay-sayers" out there, that is your answer. It is my advice to find out definitively what the legal position is before always saying "No" as you may end up expending more effort/resources/money to always take the kiasu approach when such an approach may in fact not be required.

    Worst still, if the building management tells you "No, you cannot shoot because our building is copyrighted", and you actually listen to them and abandon your project, when in fact there is no legal basis for such a statement. Or better yet, "If you want to shoot my building, pay me S$XX" and you actually go and pay.

    I hope this has been beneficial to all of you out there.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Legal to shoot buildings in Singapore? started by Juggernaut View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Trolard's Avatar
      This is Singapore, you better get permission and approval otherwise kena then you know!
    1. Archie's Avatar
      You sure need permission? Can't be everything also need permission right? Shit need permission?
    1. Beagle's Avatar
      This is an interesting question that comes up from time to time in the lifetime of a photographer.

      Especially in "rules-filled" Singapore, where there is a popular misconception that there are rules for everything, and that everything is prohibited unless expressly authorised.

      This is the "No-U-Turn" syndrome that has unfortunately pervaded the Singapore culture today. For those who have not heard of it, the No-U-Turn syndrome comes from the fact that on Singapore roads, you are not allowed to make a U-Turn unless you specifically see a sign allowing this. This is what can be termed the permissive system; ie if there is nothing to specifically say you can do it, you cannot do it.

      However, the criminal justice system is Singapore is a prohibitive rather than a permissive system. In other words, if there is no law which says that something is illegal, it is legal.

      The civil system is similar; if there is no law which gives you a cause of action against someone for an act, then there is no way you can stop the person from doing that act, or claim damages from that person.

      For example, there is currently no established cause of action to claim damages against someone who say, takes a photograph of you in public.

      Back to the present question at hand, under the Copyright Act, buildings do enjoy copyright. However, there is a specific exemption under Section 64 which states that the copyright in a building is not infringed by the making of a photograph of the building.

      Hence, for those "nay-sayers" out there, that is your answer. It is my advice to find out definitively what the legal position is before always saying "No" as you may end up expending more effort/resources/money to always take the kiasu approach when such an approach may in fact not be required.

      Worst still, if the building management tells you "No, you cannot shoot because our building is copyrighted", and you actually listen to them and abandon your project, when in fact there is no legal basis for such a statement. Or better yet, "If you want to shoot my building, pay me S$XX" and you actually go and pay.

      I hope this has been beneficial to all of you out there.
    1. toffee bread's Avatar
      Was at the Maple Tree Business City, the security guard said no shooting of the buildings.

      I said, if the staff of the offices and use their mobile phones to shoot, she said that's different, and we argued for a while and she mumbled about her supervisor and we were going to shoot for a client already and we just puffed her off....tsk tsk
    1. Beagle's Avatar
      There is often not much legal basis in what security guards try to prevent you to do.

      These security guards operate under a cloak of authority because they are wearing a uniform, but more often than not, their understanding of the law is based on a figment of their imagination.

      Quote Originally Posted by toffee bread View Post
      Was at the Maple Tree Business City, the security guard said no shooting of the buildings.

      I said, if the staff of the offices and use their mobile phones to shoot, she said that's different, and we argued for a while and she mumbled about her supervisor and we were going to shoot for a client already and we just puffed her off....tsk tsk
    1. bukitimah's Avatar
      I happen to come across this thread and just wish to give my 2cents comments. In general, you can take photo outside any buildings except military or secured installation. However, you cannot post images of a particular building for commercial or make reference without the owner's permission. I think such arrangement is fair as it protects the interest of both parties.

      I stand to be clarified
    1. Trolard's Avatar
      thot that Beagle said that taking photo does not infringe copyright? then why cannot post or make reference? which law says must need owner's position?

      Quote Originally Posted by bukitimah View Post
      I happen to come across this thread and just wish to give my 2cents comments. In general, you can take photo outside any buildings except military or secured installation. However, you cannot post images of a particular building for commercial or make reference without the owner's permission. I think such arrangement is fair as it protects the interest of both parties.

      I stand to be clarified
    1. bukitimah's Avatar
      Well, imagine if you are the owner of a building. Someone took a photo and placed a nude lady laying there using photoshop software and then post it on playboy. How would you react?
    1. kklee's Avatar
      This is how I make it clear to myself.... taking the photograph and the usage is two different matter.
    1. bukitimah's Avatar
      If you intent to post the photo, especially for commercial use, best to obtain permission. Usually they will ask you to sign an undertaking letter.

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