On September 16, 2020, 2020 National Conference on Copyright Protection and Development in Digital Environment, hosted by the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC), took place in Beijing. At the conference, Annual Report of China’s Online Copyright Protection (2019) was released by China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. The report points out that 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the historical intersection of the Two Centenary Goals. The copyright system has been playing a fundamental role in providing basic rules and underlying guarantee for encouraging content innovation and boosting cultural prosperity in the new era. In 2019, China’s online copyright development maintained a generally sound momentum, with frequent highlights: policies and systems continuously improving, institutional mechanisms constantly innovated, technology and culture integrated in depth, industrial transformation and governance upgrades advancing hand in hand, administrative and judicial protection continuing to strengthen, integrated online copyright governance system taking shape, and the online copyright protection system becoming maturer.
The report summarizes four trends in online copyright protection in 2019. First, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council attached great importance to intellectual property, and institutional innovation underlay the cause to transform China into a copyright power. Second, copyright protection shaped a sound business and innovation environment, and drove a high quality development of the online copyright industry. Third, public awareness of copyright protection increased, and the whole-society protection model achieved initial results. Fourth, new technologies expedited the empowerment of copyright protection and application, and functioned through the entire process of online copyright protection. After years of exploration and development, China has gradually formed an integrated online copyright governance system guided by policies and laws, guaranteed by government governance and judicial protection, supported by technological innovation, with social co-governance as an integral part.
According to the report, although China made significant progress in online copyright protection in 2019, there were still numerous issues and challenges. For example, the imbalance between the rights protection and use of knowledge and information caused chaos; appropriate responses and adjustments were necessary regarding the copyright governance responsibilities of the platforms; authorization and distribution rules between creators and disseminators and upstream/downstream stakeholders in the industry were to be sorted out; the domestic and foreign copyright exchange and enforcement collaboration mechanisms still needed to be improved.
The report suggests that future online copyright protection should be improved from four aspects. First, a copyright protection philosophy in line with China’s national conditions shall be established with a vision to match copyright protection with its development, and match the compensation for copyright infringement and damages with the market value. Second, it is necessary to improve the legislation and regulations and appropriately reinforce the legal liabilities of the platform. Third, a new online copyright collaborative governance mechanism shall be established for routine operation. Fourth, it is recommended to deepen opening-up and cooperation and improve the international rules and system for copyright governance.