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China’s Digital Copyright Systems

Strengthening copyright protection and simplifying copyright trade
21.07.2016

As part of our work with the UK’s Copyright Hub to explore the potential for a China digital copyright exchange, we were recently in Beijing to investigate two government backed R&D projects.

The Chinese government has recently sought to strengthen copyright protection by reasserting existing copyright law. These projects show a desire to deploy and standardise nationwide infrastructure to further strengthen copyright protection and simplify legitimate copyright trade online. This is positive news for creators, where in China (and elsewhere) piracy is still a problem and there are relatively high transaction costs associated with licensing copyrighted works directly from creators. This cost is a missed opportunity for creators and it is also the problem which the UK’s Copyright Hub was established to solve.

While in Beijing we met with the government agencies behind the two projects, the China Press and Publication Research Institution (CPPRI) and the Copyright Protection Centre of China (CPCC).

CPPRI manage a National Digital Rights Management R&D project, launched by the State Administration of Press and Publication in 2010. Many academic and industrial partners were consulted for this project, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, private companies such as Fang Zheng and China Online, and several publishing houses.

The project aims to support publishers that want to protect and control the exchange and trade of their work. It does this by granting a digital ‘lock’ and ‘key’ to registered content available online (initially text based works and images). The technology being developed enables publishers to register their content, track its usage and negotiate its use and reuse. Eventually, the aim is to have this technology adopted as standard across the publishing industries.

CPCC is a national copyright registration body, and is developing a similar project but focused on individual content creators. CPCC launched an online registration system that allows content creators to apply for a ‘national certificate of copyright’. In this way, all registered content is given a unique ID (a Digital Copyright Identifier or DCI), that links the content and identifies its creator/copyright holder. CPCC have a mandate from government to improve the enforcement of copyright, query potential unauthorized usage and enforce take-down. It is hoped this system will automate some of that process.

Both CPPRI and CPCC have expressed an interest in working more closely with the UK. As part of our work with the UK’s Copyright Hub we are exploring opportunities for UK creators to license their work into China. There is a real potential to link up the Copyright Hub with the CPPRI and CPCC projects, simplifying how UK creators license their work in China (and vice versa). This is something we will be exploring as the project processes.

- The BOP China team