The Copyright Registration in China Could Be FREE?

 —- Analysis on the Registration System of Copyright in China

Highlight: The copyright registration may enjoy subsidies from the government in some regions in China. Meanwhile, the registration is also kind of solid protection regarding copyright.

News reports indicate that Provisional Measures on Administrative Subsidy on Copyright Registration in Ningbo City will be enforced from this October; the subsidy covers the registration fee of PC software, cosmic works, online games and other legal and popular works.

Before Ningbo, such subsidies had been carried out in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and other cities, however, they were only limited to PC software. Among them, Shanghai regulated similar such subsidies as early as in 2001. All these indicate the ambition of China’s administration to encourage more works and IP registration.

In fact, although works could be legally protected from its accomplishment dates and no registration is legally required, copyright registration plays a prominent role in rights protection, and is especially necessary for software copyright suits. This essay mainly describes you the copyright registration system in China and the application for such registration for foreign companies.

I. Registration Scope 

As provided by China laws, the works copyright is automatically created on its completion, and registration is not the precondition of the copyright. Therefore, the registration is actually a kind of administrative record.

The registration of copyright is conducted voluntarily, and the works that could be registered include software, literary works, oral works, music, drama, dancing, Chinese folk art works, architecture works, photography works, cinematographic works and works created by virtue of the analogous method of film production, engineering design, product design, maps, sketch maps and other diagram and model works.

Something to take note of is that product registration is regulated by software laws, which is preconditioned by software copyright registration in practices. 

II. Subsidy for Registration 

Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai rank as top three regions among all provinces in China in copyright registration, which are the forerunner of registration subsidies. The local regulations regarding the subsidies vary among provinces, like PC software.  For example, the subsidies in Shanghai are the highest and have the widest scope, covering registration fees, certificate fees and local agency fees. As to other provinces, the subsidy also could cover the registration fee.

Through the subsidy, the registration is actually free for applicants, and it’s also a way for the government to encourage individuals and companies to register the copyright, and useful for the healthy development of the relevant industry along with the strengthened protection on copyright. 

III. Registration is the Effective Measure for Copyright Protection 

Copyright registration is also valued in practices, as stated in judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court: “Any manuscripts, original pieces, legal publications, registration certificates, evidence from certificate authorities or the contract concerning the copyright provided by the party could be regarded as legal evidence.” Therefore, the registration certificate could prove to be admissible evidence in courts, and by experiences, the certificate could better determine to which party the rights belong to more conveniently than other documents.

The effects of copyright registration will be pronounced in software copyright protection. The source code of 60 pages and software documents are demanded by the administration during registration application. The source code could be the first and last 30 pages of any software program, and all source code shall be provided once it’s less than 60 pages. For the software easy to be copied, the applicant could choose required code for the program as the source code in registration; therefore, it could be the reference in judicial examination for the dispute settlement in suit, also by which the interest of the applicant could be guaranteed. The above mentioned documents include the user’s manual, operation manual, design instruction, instructions for use, etc.

The copyright is registered in official institutions or administrations, and only the judicial authority is permitted to check the registered file, therefore, there is no need to worry about any release of your trade secrets. 

IV. Administration of Registration 

The administration for copyright registration is through the National Copyright Administration (NCA). The Copyright Protection Center of China is authorized by the NCA as the registration institution, and local registration institutions are the provincial copyright bureaus. As to the product registration of software, it’s administrated by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, for more details please refer to follow-up articles on our website

At the end of this essay, we suggest foreign invested companies enroll in more copyright registrations, for it could prove to be the solid evidence used in rights protection cases, and also such registration could be subsidized by the government.  Furthermore, the amount of registered copyrights is also an important factor in the assessment of high-tech enterprises, which may bring companies a deduction and even exemption from taxes.

We have provided copyright registration service for foreign companies, including those listed in NASDAQ. If you have any problems on copyright registration in China, please feel free to contact us 

For more information of related services in China, please click here (Trademark, Copyright, Patent, Trade Secret, Cooperate, Foreign Investment, Labor)

Copyright reserved by Mr. You Yunting
Editor-in-Chief of Bridge IP Commentary
Partner & Attorney-at-law of Shanghai DeBund Law Offices
Email:, Tel: 8621-5213-4900,
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Bridge IP Commentary is a website focus on the introduction of commercial laws in China, especially the intellectual property laws. All the posts here are our original works. All news or cases referred here are from public reports, and our comments or analysis are of due diligence, neutrality and impartiality, representing our own opinions only. You may contact us shall you have any opinions or suggestions.

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