Copyright is becoming more and more important in China. The number of registrations has been increasing by 20 to 30% for years, the number of software copyrights has even increased by 36% in 2019. This reflects not only the growth in new technologies in areas such as cloud computing, AI or IoT, but also the growing awareness of the importance of intellectual property rights.
The new copyright law comes at the right time. It provides that compensation for copyright infringements can be up to five times the amount of damage incurred, with an upper limit of RMB 5 million – ten times as much as under the previous law. This amount seems to be establishing itself as the standard for compensation in other areas. The Trademark Law and the Law against Unfair Competition have already been revised accordingly, and the amendment to the Patent Law also provides for raising the compensation for patent infringement to this level.
Another trend we are observing is the easing of the burden of proof for the plaintiff. We have observed this in the amendments to the Unfair Competition Act with regard to the theft of trade secrets. Now the alleviation of the burden of proof is also found in copyright law. The authorities are to be given the power to collect evidence of unlawful acts and to require the party concerned to disclose case-related documents.
The description “cinematographic works and works made by analogous procedure” is changed to “audiovisual works”. This is not only good news for people and companies streaming live on TikTok. This modification of the wording now also provides protection for live webcasting, short videos and online dramas, which play an important role especially in China.
Last but not least, the draft contains new provisions on technical protection measures and their illegal circumvention. It clearly sets out the conditions under which it is permissible to circumvent technical protection measures, in which cases they are illegal and when compensation must be paid.