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NCAC Issued the Notice on Regulating the Copyright Order of Photographic Works

The National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) has recently issued the Notice on Regulating the Copyright Order of Photographic Works (hereinafter referred to as “the Notice”) to further administer image copyright and regulate the copyright order of photographic works. The Notice clarifies copyright issues related to photographic works and encourages the building of a long-term copyright protection mechanism for photographic works.

According to an official in charge at NCAC, the wide use and dissemination of photographic works online is accompanied by the even more serious image infringement and piracy. Furthermore, some online image galleries improperly or even illegally seek rights protection, which has drawn extensive concerns. In order to respond to the industry’s voice, iron out the copyright problem strongly reflected by the public and create a sound legal environment for the integrated development of media, NCAC incorporated image copyright rectification into the "Jianwang 2019" Campaign and investigated and handled a number of cases of photographic works infringement and piracy, which has yielded remarkable results. The Notice will positively consolidate the achievements of the Campaign and further regulate the copyright order of photographic works.

The Notice consists of seven parts. First, it clarifies that the essential element that constitutes a photographic work is originality. It emphasizes that photographic works themed on news events do not belong to the news on current affairs and are protected by Copyright Laws. Second, regarding the existing problem of mutilating the title and original intention of the photographic works, it emphasizes the protection for the creator’s personal rights and reiterates the legal status and duties of copyright collective management organizations. Third, it stipulates the obligations of the online image gallery operators, forbidding the practices such as copyright fabrication, false authorization, and improper rights protection. The Notice explicitly points out that online image gallery operators are prohibited from charging in the name of copyright licensing fees if the gallery is a collection of photographic works whose copyright protection term expires or whose copyright owner waives the economic rights. Fourth, it stipulates the obligations of Internet service providers and points out that the notice and take-down obligation must be fulfilled. Fifth, it emphasizes the author whose photographic works are printed in the textbook with a statutory license has the right to receive remuneration. Sixth, it encourages all parties to cooperate as a joint force to further regulate the copyright order of photographic works. Seventh, it reiterates the materials necessary for administrative complaints and particularly points out that the rights statement and watermark cannot be used alone as proof of copyright ownership, so as to avoid an overly low threshold for identifying the copyright ownership of photographic works in law enforcement.

For copyright law enforcement departments at all levels, the next step is to further reinforce the efforts to combat infringement and piracy related to photographic works, particularly by strictly dealing with online image gallery operators’ infringing acts, such as the dissemination of works through copyright fabrication and false authorizations, and by rectifying online image gallery operators’ copyright trading practices that are against the laws and regulations, such as unclear ownership and improperly seeking rights protection, so as to safeguard legitimate rights and interests of copyright owners of photographic works in accordance with the law.