The end of 2020 brought good news on the copyright front. The 3rd Amendment of China’s Copyright Law was officially announced to be passed on November 11, coming into effect on June 1, 2021. China’s copyright review process started in 2011 and aimed to catch up with the impacts of technology in copyright-based industries’ business models.

Commenting on the new law, Li Pengyi, representative of the Publishers Association of China said: I think the new law will, from legal perspective, provide Chinese publishing enterprises and authors with more powerful and professional support, and help them protect their rights and interests more comprehensively.

The bill introduced significant advances to copyright enforcement in China, long called upon and welcomed by the IPA and other publishing trade organizations. Notable steps are the raise of punitive damages to RMB 5 million yuan, ten times the amount set out in the 2010 version and new court orders to destroy infringing copies and the materials, tools and equipment for the purpose of making such items. Another important outcome is the enhanced capacity of copyright administrative bodies to investigate cases, applying measures to deter infringements and preserve evidence, such as on-site inspection, seal-up and detention of suspected venues and items. 

In an effort to balance exceptions to copyright protection, the new law introduced the “three-step test” to affirm the boundaries that must be taken into account to invoke a limitation or an exception to copyright protection. 

The Government of China conducted two consultations in 2020 before the final bill was approved. The second draft bill, published in the summer, no longer contained provisions enabling Chinese administration to pursue copyright owners for alleged abuse of rights, one of the main points opposed by IPA in our first submission.

Important progress on strengthening enforcement was also achieved at the end of last year through decisions by China’s Supreme People’s Court and the National Copyright Administration of the people’s Republic of China. The decisions application in future criminal procedures eases the burden of proof for copyright owners by considering the copyright statement on the works is sufficient as evidence of ownership, absent counterevidence.

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