Sociology Index

Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China

Intellectual Property Rights, Copyright Law, Copyleft Law

Intellectual property rights have been acknowledged and protected in the People's Republic of China since 1979. Copyright law is governed by the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China and the Implementing Rules for the Copyright Law of the PRC which were adopted and promulgated in 1990. In order to implement the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, as well as bilateral copyright treaties signed between the People's Republic of China and other foreign countries, the People's Republic of China government passed the Regulations on Implementation of International Copyright Treaties (1992). These have given foreign copyright holders more safeguards in terms of protecting their rights and interests in mainland China.

Before the People's Republic of China acceded to the Berne Convention, computer software was not treated as a kind of literary work under the Copyright Law.

In May 1991, the State Council passed the Computer Software Protection Rules. Based upon these rules, the Measures for Computer Software Copyright Registration were formulated by the then Ministry of Engineering Electronics Industries. These regulations provide a set of rules covering the definitions of various terms and the registration, examination and approval of computer software programmes in mainland China.

Right now both the Berne Convention and these two domestic computer regulations are co-effective. However, in the event of any inconsistency, the Berne Convention prevails.

National legal framework

The legal framework for protecting intellectual property in the People's Republic of China is built on three national laws passed by the National People's Congress: the Patent Law, the Trademark Law and the Copyright Law. A great number of regulations, rules, measures and policies have been made by the NPC Standing Committee, the State Council and various ministries, bureaux and commissions. The circulars, opinions and notices of the Supreme People's Court also form part of the legal framework.