How to Copyright Internet Content in China

China Copyright LAwyer

One of our international copyright lawyers recently sent the below email (slightly modified) to one of our clients, and since it nicely lays out the basics on what is required to secure Chinese copyrights on internet content, I am running the key portion from it below:

1. To secure copyright protection for the original elements of a website, you need to file a copyright application for a particular category of creative work: a compilation. Each webpage would be a separate item in the compilation.

2. The application must include a hard-copy printout (typically, a screenshot) of each webpage. Although it seems illogical, China will not accept webpages in digital format.

3. Note that a website is protectable via copyright in China regardless of where the website is hosted. However, China will not grant copyright protection to content it deems to be against socialist morality, the Chinese government, or the Chinese Communist Party.

4. Once a copyright application has been submitted, it usually takes about three months to receive a copyright registration certificate.

5. To have enforceable protection for your copyrights in China, you must first register those copyrights in China. You also must register any relevant license agreements to receive payments from China. Though China is a signatory to the Berne Convention and is obligated to recognize copyrights created in any other signatory country, proving the existence of a foreign copyright (and its contents) is often difficult and sometimes impossible in China, whether before a Chinese court, a Chinese agency, a Chinese e-commerce site or otherwise. From a practical standpoint, it’s always better to have a Chinese copyright registration.

Please let me know if you need further clarification.

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