Amendments to China’s Copyright Law Finally on the Way

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If you’ve been wondering where the hell the draft Copyright Law has been hiding, the wait is over. The Patent Law was amended in 2008, the Trademark Law is in the final stages, and now drafts of the changes to the Copyright Law are being circulated for review and comment.

At this point, this post is more of a placeholder than anything else. I haven’t spent much time with the draft, and frankly there are some large gaps in my knowledge of copyright law that I’ll probably shore up this year. In case you’re wondering, although we lawyers deal with copyright issues all the time (infringement, licensing), there are many subsets of the law that are fiendishly technical and haven’t been really addressed by existing law and/or the courts — also, they are not relevant with respect to typical commercial transactions. The amendment process is one opportunity to discuss some of these questions and try to figure out where the law needs to be, particularly given technological change.

If you’re into this stuff, here are a couple links:

Prof Don Clarke points us to the draft law itself (in Chinese of course), plus this English commentary by copyright expert Rogier Creemers (whose China Copyright and Media blog is a must read for China copyright enthusiasts).

The BeijingDaze blog has a useful post about the draft amendments and how they might effect musicians/composers. The criticism is also picked up in this China Daily article. This is the kind of perspective that is really helpful in understanding how the legal reform process matters “on the ground.”

That’s it for now. Stay tuned.

4 responses on “Amendments to China’s Copyright Law Finally on the Way

  1. Steve M

    I’ve skimmed the draft, but haven’t read it in depth. It looks like it’s more of a consolidation than a revision; it combines elements of the existing Copyright Law, the Copyright Law Implementing Regulations, the 2006 Network Regulations, and the Computer Software Copyright Regulations.

    I did notice some noteworthy changes, however. For instance, the draft codifies the idea/expression dichotomy for the first time. (Well, the Software Regulations codified it for computer software, but the Copyright Law has never articulated the doctrine. Currently it is an academic- and judge-made doctrine.)

    No changes to the fair use provision, unfortunately.

    1. Stan Post author

      Thanks. None of that comes as a surprise. The big push for an amendment has been the need to update re: network/Net/software rules, simply because of the reality and challenges of new tech, so if that’s the source of most of the new content, that makes sense. These draft amendments usually have a healthy dose of codification about them, so that takes care of the rest.

      I really need to set aside some time to review all this . . .