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2018 China Online Copyright Protection
Annual Report Released

On April 26, 2019 National Conference on Copyright Protection and Development in Digital Environment was held in Beijing. On the conference, Wang Zhiqin, Vice President of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, announced 2018 Annual Report of Online Copyright Protection in China. The report said that the year 2018 was the first year for full implementation of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress and the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in China. In the past 40 years, starting from scratch, copyright industry in China has grown from small to big, and the copyright system has become the basic rules and important guarantee for inspiring innovation in contents and promoting culture prosperity in the new era. In 2018, China online copyright administrative protection and judicial protection were further strengthened, and online copyright management through cooperation mechanism in the society was further improved. With prominent outcomes in regulating copyright in priority areas, online copyright order was further standardized, and online copyright ecology continued to improve, which inspired expansion of online copyright industry.

The report believes that in recent years, the Central Committee of CPC and the State Council has provided direction for the protection of copyright by paying high attention to intellectual property rights. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that “strengthening intellectual property protection is the most important content for improving the property rights protection system, and it is also the most important incentives to improve China’s economic competitiveness”. These words provided a fundamental basis for strengthening copyright protection. The great achievements made in the 40 years of reform and opening-up had laid a solid foundation for copyright protection. The history of rapid growth of intellectual property rights in the past 40 years was also the history for the continuous improvement of copyright legal system in China, the strengthening of protection, and the deepening of international exchanges. The continuous expansion of online copyright industry had strongly driven the development of high-quality copyright economy, bringing new atmosphere for online copyright protection.

The report believes that in 2018 online copyright protection in China had achieved significant administrative, social and judicial outcomes. In terms of administrative protection, special regulating and priority supervision were combined to guide the development of hot areas such as short videos. In 2018, the results of online copyright administrative protection in China were outstanding. During the special campaign of “Jianwang 2018”, copyright law enforcement and supervision agencies at all levels investigated and handled 544 cases of online infringement and piracy involving RMB 150 million yuan, including 74 criminal cases and a batch of major cases of infringement and piracy. In response to copyright problems in emerging areas such as short videos and online reprinting, the copyright regulatory authorities talked with key enterprises to promote self-discipline and fulfill main responsibility in the industry. The copyright order in short video and online reprinting areas was significantly improved. The NCAC had continuously strengthened priority supervision on copyrights of large websites and key works, and further expanded the coverage and influence of special actions. It also promoted cooperation on the transfer and authorization of music works, and improved the accuracy of law enforcement and supervision.

In terms of judicial protection, copyright trial rules were improving, and trial models continued to innovate. As Beijing High People’s Court released Guidelines for the Trial of Copyright Infringement Cases, and the Supreme People’s Court released the Regulation on Issues Concerning Applicable Laws for Reviewing Intellectual Property Disputes and Preservation Cases, copyright trial rules had improved a lot. Beijing Internet Court and Guangzhou Internet Court were set up, innovating trial model of Internet-related cases and improving trail efficiency. The infringement cases of photos shot up, and plagiarism and illegal reprinting in public accounts were serious, with prominent regional concentration of cases. In criminal cases, online games were still the turbulent areas.

In terms of social protection, various entities jointly promote governance through cooperation and using new technologies to protect legitimate rights and interests. Copyright management organizations such as Music Copyright Society and China Written Works Copyright Society improved management and carried out multi-dimensional cooperation while actively developing new members. Industry associations advocated industry self-regulation for the short videos, releasing China Online Short Video Copyright Self-Regulation Convention and Online Short Video Platform Management Codes. Internet companies improved internal copyright management system through self-inspection and correction of infringement and piracy contents and accounts, and protected copyright through new technologies such as blockchain.

The report believes that online copyright protection in 2018 had the following main characteristics: 5G development in China had entered a fast track and new technology and content industry were deeply integrated. The application of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain provided new methods and new models for copyright protection in digital environment. With policy system for copyright industry had been further improved with more stringent supervision, users were more willing to pay, and standardized development of digital industry had further upgraded the business model, further improving ecology of the industry. As spread of contents in the media era was fragmented and based on communities, social platforms had become an important media of disseminating works. Relying on technological advantages and resource integration capabilities, major Internet platforms actively explored new paths for online copyright protection and played an important role in online copyright governance system.

The report believes that in 2018, online copyright protection in China had made significant progress, but there are still many problems and challenges. For example, current copyright legal system could not meet the new demands of industry development; the decentralization of infringement and piracy methods increased the difficulties of copyright protection; the content industry prioritized quantities over qualities and lacked innovation abilities; copyright international response was confronted with more challenges.  

The report recommended the following: speeding up the revision process of the Copyright Law, improving the copyright system; encouraging, innovating and stimulating original creativity, promoting the creation and production of excellent works; innovating copyright governance models, establishing a joint collaborative governance mechanism; promoting copyright information sharing and promoting transparency of trading platforms.