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Singapore Press Holdings chases charity for $50 for republishing story about migrant workers

SPHSingapore’s largest newspaper publisher has sent a legal letter to a charity demanding payment for an article that it republished on its website.

Singapore Press Holdings contacted foreign workers’ rights charity TWC2 demanding that a comment piece that ran in the Straits Times headlined ‘Protect vulnerable workers against abuse’ be removed from its website unless a license fee was paid.

SPH sent the letter to TWC2 in January – nine months after the story was first published. The story ran in the form of a scanned photograph, and was paraphrased rather than copied in its entirety. It remains on TWC2’s website.

In the letter, SPH said TWC2 was infringing on its copyright by reproducing the editorial of 18 August 2012 and said the charity must pay S$50 (US$40), the fee for licensing content for charities.

TWC2 responded by asking if SPH would consider waiving the fee since they are, in fact, a registered charity. SPH agreed, and TWC2 completed a licence agreement that allowed it to publish the article for free.

Commenting on the exchange, SPH told Mumbrella: “SPH is a major publisher of news and lifestyle articles. We need to have our intellectual property rights in these articles recognised and protected in order to maintain a sustainable business framework.”

“However, we understand the challenges that non-profit organisations and charities face and we offer them a much lower licensing fee of S$50 per article. For charities listed on the website of National Council of Social Service, the licensing fee is waived.”

“When we received the appeal from the President of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), we agreed to waive the licensing fee and TWC2 was informed within one working day. To date, the article is still up on TWC2’s website.”

The publisher finished by telling Mumbrella: “We feel that we have been most fair to TWC2 and our actions in this situation should not be misconstrued otherwise.”

SPH is not unknown to be protective about its copyright, and entered a bitter legal battle with Yahoo! Southeast Asia two years ago.

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