Brief introduction of Copyright in China

Katherine HE
BORSAM IP———————————————

Copyright is one of the most important parts of intellectual property law, and as China is a civil law country, so the copyright can be considered as the generic name of right of personality and property rights in a work.As China is a country based on the principles of common law, it aims to protect the author’s right of personality, so therefore it is not allowed to abandon or transfer the right or personality of any intellectual property, in this regard it differs with other common law countries.
What can be protected by copyright law?
The objective of copyright law concerns the protection of artistic works, literature and scientific works which possess originality and can be copied in certain way. Generally speaking, the objects that concern copyright include:

  1. Written works;
  2. Oral works;
  3. Musical, dramatic, quyi and choreographic works; 
  4. Works of fine art and photographic works;
  5. Cinematographic, television and video-graphic works; 
  6. Drawings of engineering designs and product designs, and descriptions thereof;
  7. Maps, sketches and other graphic works;
  8. Computer software;
  9. Other works as provided for in law and administrative rules and regulations.

In general, the protection period of the copyright concerned begins from the creation of the work and until the end of the 50th years after the death of the author. But in practice, the legal entity can also be a copyrighter, but the protection period is a little different with an individual because it is only 50 years calculated from the publication date of the work.
In China, the copyright is born with the creation of the work, and the copyright registration is not compulsive. China also adopts automatic protection of copyright as prescribed in Article 2 of Copyright law. As quoted it refers to the “Works of Chinese citizens, legal persons or entities without legal personality, whether published or not, shall enjoy copyright in accordance with this Law. Works of foreigners first published in the territory of the People's Republic of China shall enjoy copyright in accordance with this Law. Any work of a foreigner published outside the territory of the People's Republic of China which is eligible to enjoy copyright under an agreement concluded between the country to which the foreigner belongs and China, or under an international treaty to which both countries are parties, shall be protected in accordance with this Law”.
How to file for copyright registration in China?
The Chinese copyright center allows the applicant to file the basic information online and then mail the original documents to the copyright center which then completes the registration. However, the online filing system is only an enabling file in Chinese and the documents required should also be sent in Chinese. Therefore, we advise entrusting an intellectual property law firm to help you deal with your copyright registration.
Normally, the required documents and information for copyright registration are as follows:

  1. Name, address and nationality of the applicant;
  2. Name and specification for the work;
  3. Creation and publication date for the work;
  4. Declaration of the ownership of the work, which states that the applicant has the rights to file the registration request.
  5. Letter of guarantee to state that the work is originally created by the applicant/employee;
  6. Statement of application to state that the copyright registration is voluntary;
  7. Applicant’s identification documents;
  8. Power of attorney.

The applicant may request to accelerate the examination by paying additional costs, so once the original documents are signed and sent to the copyright center, the certificate will be issued within a month.