China is a signatory country of the Berne Convention the Universal Copyright Convention, and several other important international treaties in respect of intellectual property rights.
As in many other countries, copyright registration is a voluntary procedure in China. Copyright shall exist from the date on which the creation of a work has been completed or from the date on which the development of a software product has been completed.
Since a copyright shall exist automatically when a work or software is completed, why do people need to apply for copyright registration?
The nature and effects of applying for a copyright registration in China
1. It is a preliminary proof of the registered information. Unless there is contrary evidence, the registered facts or deeds are deemed true;
2. It can be used as a certificate of rights to guarantee transaction security in an assignment of a work/software or a license for using a work/software;
3. It can be taken as prima facie evidence in claiming damage to an infringer or in a litigation so as to efficiently lighten the burden of proof of the copyright owner and reduce the lawsuit cost;
4. In many copyright infringement cases, such as the cases in relation to the Chinese animation "Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf", the copyright registration certificates have been taken as the main evidence to prove the rights of the copyright owner;
5. Copyright registration certificates can also be used as evidence to prove prior rights in trademark oppositions, trademark cancellations, and administrative proceedings, etc;
6. When multiple transfers occur, the assignment deed having been registered has the effect of acting against the third party; and
7. The software copyright registration certificate is an important factor for the identification of a software product, software enterprise or high & new technology enterprise and for software enterprises to enjoy a preferential tax policy.
Works that are protected under Chinese Copyright Law
Protected works include, works of literature, art, natural science, social science, engineering and technology, created in any of the following forms:
1. Written works
2. Oral works
3. Works of the fine arts and architecture
5. Graphic works such as drawings of engineering designs and product designs, maps and sketches, and model works
6. Photographic works
7. Computer software
Scope of China Copyright Protection
Copyrights that are protected under the Copyright Law in China include the right of publication, authorship, revision, distribution, integrity, rental, exhibition, presentation, performance, broadcast, cinema screening, communication through information network, adaptation, translation, compilation and other rights to be exercised by copyright owners.
Term of Protection of Copyrights in China
No time limit is set on the term of protection for an author's rights of authorship and revision and his right to protect the integrity of his work. If the work is owned by an individual, the term of protection for the right of publication and the related property rights is the lifetime of the author plus another 50 years; if the work belongs to a legal entity, such term is fifty years from the first publication of such work; and likewise in respect of a cinematographic work.
China Copyright Licensing and Transfer Agreements
Anyone who uses another person's work shall enter into a copyright licensing agreement with the copyright owner, unless no permission needs to be obtained under the law. Anyone who transfers any copyright should conclude a written agreement. When a copyright is pledged, both the pledger and pledgee shall undergo the registration with the copyright administration department under the State Council.
China Copyright Filing Documents
In order to apply for a copyright registration in China, the following documents are required.
1. Application form, which shall be filled through the online system of CPCC;
2. Sample of the work/source program of the software;
3. Description of the work/instructions of the software in Chinese;
4. Proof of identity of applicant. If the applicant is an individual, a copy of the ID or passport shall be provided; if the applicant is an entity, a copy of the certificate of incorporation/business registration shall be provided. For copyright registration for software, the copy of the certificate of incorporation/business registration of a foreign entity shall be notarized by the notary or legalized by the Chinese Embassy in the foreign country;
5. Proof of ownership, such as a copy of the contract between the author and the applicant in the case that the author is not the copyright owner, or other relevant documents, such as a statement made by the author; and
6. Power of attorney, which shall be provided if the copyright registration is filed through an agent.
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