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Q&A on Copyright in China

What can be protected by copyright?

Works of citizens, legal persons or other organizations of China, whether published or not, enjoy copyright protection under the PRC Copyright Law.

Since China is a member of the WTO and the Berne Convention, there are no formalities required for citizens, legal persons or other organizations from other WTO members to own copyright in China.

Types of the Works

As a Berne member, China protects the standard range of creative works. The types of works enumerated by the Copyright Law are:

  • Written works; 
  • Oral works; 
  • Musical, dramatic, operatic, and choreographic works; 
  • Artistic and Architectural works; 
  • Computer software 

Software has been protected by the PRC Copyright Law ever since China joined the Berne Convention in 1992. However, China also has the Regulation on Computer Software Protection to specifically protect copyright in software.

Databases are not subject to copyright protection, and China does not have a specific Database Statute. However, compilations of data (数据的汇编) are protected by the PRC Copyright Law. The key point is that the compilation should display originality in selection and arrangement of the data.

Where to register?

Registration is not the precondition of obtaining copyright in China.

How does a foreigner obtain copyright in China?

In order to qualify for copyright ownership in China, a foreign copyright owner should meet one of the following requirements:

  • Their work must first be published in China prior to publication in other jurisdictions; 
  • The author must be a national or a resident of a jurisdiction which is a common member signatory with China to an international treaty or an agreement;
  • The foreign work is first published in a member country of a treaty to which China is also a member.
Term of protection

Generally, the term of authorship, modification and integrity in respect of the work shall continue in perpetuity. The protection of other types of copyrights is the life of the author plus fifty years. However, in the following instances, the term of copyright is simply fifty years from first publication of the work:

  • Where the author of the work is a corporation or other entity;
  • Where the work is a photographic work, cinematographic, television or audio-visual work.


This article and its contents are not regarded as formal legal opinions or suggestions of IsCham member, Chamzon Law Firm or its lawyers. If you require legal advice or professional analysis, please contact the lawyers of Chamzon Law Firm, or contact your regular contact lawyer. For more details, please contact: or

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