The importance of a collective voice for the freelancers and Self-employed persons

By September 23, 2021Current
freelancers copyright act

TL;DR – Size matters.

In another few months, newlyweds who engage a photographer to take photos of their wedding day will have no rights to the photos anymore.

Instead, the photographer will have the rights – and the couple will have to negotiate with the photographer if they want to be granted the rights of the photos.

This change comes after the after amendments to the Act were passed in Parliament on Monday (Sept 13), and is expected to kick in around November this year.

While the creator’s copyright ownership can be waived in contracts during negotiations, even with the change, there are concerns regarding the lack of written agreement on the ownership of the copyrights of the photo.

As such, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, who is the Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC, suggested for an oral agreement to be made between the consumer and photographer.

Difficulties in presenting oral agreement as evidence when a dispute arises

In response to Mr Lim’s suggestion, Mr Tong, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, noted that there would be difficulties presenting them as evidence when there is a dispute.

“If oral agreements are allowed, it’s often going to be one man’s word against the other,” he added

Mr Tong said the Government will consider Mr Lim’s suggestion to have a template for written agreements of copyright ownership, but suggested creators, who could be freelancers and small business owners, consider coming together to form industry associations to develop industry best practices to represent them.

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The importance of a collective voice

Indeed, more often than not, freelancers or self-employed persons (SEPs) are vulnerable alone and are subject to forces that they may not as a single person have any influence on.

However, if these freelancers or SEPs band together as a group, it’s a different story altogether. They could collectively negotiate for common interests with other parties and stakeholders, even on a national level via Labour MPs.

7 Reasons Why Freelancers Should Get NTUC Union Membership

Support for visual, audio, and creative content professionals

To better represent freelance and self-employed individuals (FSEs) who are in the creative content industry such as photographers, videographers, and scriptwriters, the Visual, Audio, Creative Content Professionals Association (Singapore) (Vicpa) was set up last year.

Representing around 1,000 creative professionals, the Vicpa aims to help buyers understand how creative professionals charge as well as their value of service and develop a code of ethics to guide industry practices.

The association also has a suite of support schemes and programmes for freelancers including one-off financial assistance, business networking opportunities, resources and courses to equip freelancers with new capabilities, and options to expand their income streams!


Yep, you don’t have to walk alone 😉


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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