Highlights of the Newly-revised Chinese Copyright Law

(8 November 2001)

The revised Copyright Law of the People's Republic China was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 27 October, 2001. The revised Law has not only fulfilled the requirements set forth in the TRIPS Agreement, but also well responded to the challenges in copyright protection due to the rapid scientific and technical development. Through the revision, some problems existing for years in copyright protection in China has finally been solved.

The major changes to the Chinese Copyright Law are as follows:

  1. Incorporating right of rental and right of information distribution on internet to copyright: right of rental refers to the right to authorise others to temporarily use cinematographic works or works created by means similar to that for producing cinematographic works, or computer software; right of information distribution on network refers to the right to communicate to the public works, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that member of the public may access these works from a place and at a time individually chosen by them (See Article 10 of the Copyright Law);

  2. Providing the protection on databases: databases created by compilation of data that do not constitute works, and having originality in the selection and arrangement of the contents are protected as works of compilation (See Article 14 of the Copyright Law);

  3. Expanding the performer's right: Performers have the right to authorise others to reproduce and distribute sound/video recording products including their performance, to distribute their performance through information network, and the right to receive remuneration;

  4. Adding the right of sound/video recording producers: The producers of sound/video recording products have the right to authorise others to rent or distribute through information network their sound/video recording products to the public, and the right to receive remuneration;

  5. Providing more legal remedies for copyright infringees:

  6. Specifying the methods for calculating the amount of compensation for damages: The amount of compensation for damages may be calculated according to the real loss of the copyright owner or the infringer's income, plus the reasonable expenses in stopping the infringement borne by the copyright owner; where the damages cannot be calculated by either of the above methods, the court may fix the compensation for damages to an amount up to RMB 500,000 yuan (Article 48 of the Copyright Law);

  7. Adopting the pre-trial injunction for suspension of alleged infringement and property preservation measure: If the copyright owner has eidence that the infringer is conducting or is going to conduct an infringing act which is most likely to cause irreparable damages to his legitimate rights and interests, he may file a request with the People's Court to order the infringer to suspend the alleged infringement or adopt the property preservation measure before instituting legal proceedings (Article 49 of the Copyright Law);

  8. Adding the evidence preservation measure: Where the evidence is likely to be destroyed, or where it is difficult to obtain the proofs in the future, the copyright owner may apply to the People's Court for the preservation of evidence (Article 50 of the Copyright Law);

  9. Adding the provision for legal liabilities of publishers, producers, distributors and renters of reproductions of works; where publishers, producers, distributors and renters of reproductions of works cannot prove that their reproductions have legitimate source, they shall bear legal liabilities (Article 52 of the Copyright Law);

  10. Adding the requirement for concluding a written contract for assignment of copyright: where the property right incorporated in a copyright, as specified in the law, is transferred, a written contract shall be concluded (Article 25 of the Copyright Law).

China Patent Agent (H.K.) Ltd.