BLOGGERS, students, academics and non-profit institutions could soon find it easier to use copyrighted works like pictures, music or even exam papers without breaking the law.
An international group is working to popularise so-called creative commons licences, which allow musicians, photographers and other copyright owners to release their works into the public realm with fewer restrictions.
This benefits both creators and those who want to use their work, said intellectual property lawyer Bryan Tan of Keystone Law Corporation.
"(It opens) up an easy avenue to share your works on a wider scale than was possible under the traditional copyright regime... while still allowing the creators to enforce those rights."
Under the traditional 'all rights reserved' copyright system, a blogger who wants to use a digital picture found online would have to contact the photographer for permission - even if the photographer had no objections to the picture being used.
The 'some rights reserved' creative commons licences, however, allow creators to pick from a broader range of copyrights, and inform those interested in their works what the rules of use are.
For example, a photographer can pick the licence that will allow others to make non-profit use of his pictures as long as the original work is unchanged and he is credited.
This would allow bloggers to pluck his pictures off the Internet and slap them on their websites without asking the photographer's permission first.
But the photographer will be able to sue someone who sells his work under Singapore's copyright laws.
Similarly, a school could also allow students from other schools to download its exam papers, but prohibit companies from compiling the papers and selling them.
A group of technology and legal experts have recently completed adapting the US-centric creative commons licences to local laws, and will make the licences 'available soon online'.