Copyright infringers in China are now facing higher penalties

China Desk
Did you know that copyright infringers in China now face higher penalties?

On 11 November 2020, the Decision on Revising the Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China was
adopted, resulting in the approval of the third amendment to the Chinese Copyright Law, which will
come into force on 1 June 2021.

The newly amended law encompasses changes on many levels, providing amongst others a clearer determination of copyright ownership. One of the other major amendments is the incorporation of increased penalties and introduction of punitive damages for copyright infringement.

First of all, the amended Copyright Law provides a more detailed list of which activities are considered to be acts of infringement, such as reproduction of (audiovisual) works without permission of the copyright owner, publication of books for which you do not own the publication rights, broadcast of TV and radio programs without consent, etc.

If the infringement harms the public interest, the competent authorities can not only confiscate illegal income and/or the infringing goods, they can now also impose penalties ranging from one to five times the illegal income, once this is higher than 50.000 RMB (approx. 6.400 EUR). A maximum fine of 250.000 RMB (approx. 32.000 EUR) can be imposed in case the illegal income is difficult to calculate, or is lower than 50.000 RMB.

Secondly, the amended Copyright Law:

– provides that from now on damages can be calculated based on the standard preferred by the copyright owner: either the actual loss suffered, the royalties on the relevant rights, or the illegal income gained by the infringing party;

– increases the statutory damages from 500.000 RMB (approx. 64.000 EUR) to 5.000.000 RMB (approx. 640.000 EUR), with a newly introduced minimum of 500 RMB (64 EUR), and;
– introduces punitive damages for intentional copyright infringements. Compensations for the copyright owner may range from one to five times the calculated damage amount.

By increasing the penalties and implementing punitive damages for copyright infringements, the Chinese the government aims to strengthen the protection of copyright in China and shows that it has become less tolerant of copyright infringement on its territory.

The new amendments provide a safer environment for innovation and encourage entrepreneurs to expand their activities to China.

If you have any questions regarding infringements of (your) copyrights in China, contact our China Desk experts, who are not only highly skilled in national IP law but are also proficient in Mandarin.

Katja Poelmans

Katja Poelmans –  Intellectual Property Paralegal