Registering Your Intellectual Property in China: Copyright

A Seller, technically speaking, does not need to register their copyright because China is a member of the Berne Convention1 which means copyright protection is an automatic right granted to all member-nations of that agreement. In the event of an infringement of a copyright, however, a Seller with copyright protection derived only from the Berne Convention would have to prove their copyright by submitting the original work(s), translating complicated legalese, and notarizing documents, all from overseas.2 This process could potentially be very tedious, complicated, and costly. No Seller wants their business interrupted in such a way. Therefore, the savvy Seller will register his or her copyright in China under Chinese Copyright Law.

Registering for Copyright Protection in China

A Seller, technically speaking, does not need to register their copyright because China is a member of the Berne Convention3 which means copyright protection is an automatic right granted to all member-nations of that agreement. In the event of an infringement of a copyright, however, a Seller with copyright protection derived only from the Berne Convention would have to prove their copyright by submitting the original work(s), translating complicated legalese, and notarizing documents, all from overseas.4 This process could potentially be very tedious, complicated, and costly. No Seller wants their business interrupted in such a way. Therefore, the savvy Seller will register his or her copyright in China under Chinese Copyright Law.

Anthony’s Breakdown: Registering for Copyright Protection in China, while not technically necessary, should be done as part of your protection-package. It will help to streamline the process of fighting any copyright issues in the country and get you “back to business” as soon as possible.

The easiest and most cost-effective way for a Seller to protect their products eligible for copyright protection in China is to get a signed Certificate of Registration from the Copyright Protection Center of China (“CPCC”).5 Fortunately for the Seller, the Chinese registration process is fairly straightforward. The following is a step-by-step process for online application for copyright protection in China.

  1. The Seller goes to http://www.ccopyright.com/ (the CPCC’s website).
    • Ccopyright.com is a Chinese-based website. If the Seller is not literate in Chinese, they should seek assistance from one who is; please contact our firm and we can provide the Seller with a translation. If the Seller wishes to proceed on their own, however, the Seller should access the website via google and use the translation link at the top of the page to translate a portion of the site into English.
  2. The Seller sets up an account on the CPCC site. From the main page, the Seller clicks “Copyright Registration” which will bring the Seller to a new page.

Step 26

  1. If the Seller does not already have an account, he or she clicks on the link on the right-hand side of the “User Login” module underneath “forgot password?” A new page will appear where the Seller needs to fill out all the relevant information about his or her business.

Step 37

  1. The Seller returns to the page from Step 4 and clicks “I want to register.” The first link under the “Online business” module.

Step 48

  1. Depending on the type of copyright protection the Seller is seeking (see chapter two for descriptions of what type of protection is being sought) the Seller selects either “R11” (the blue arrow) for a computer software copyright and fills out the application form that drops down or selects “Z11” (the yellow arrow) for an application for a work’s copyright registration and fills out the application form that drops down.

Step 59

  1. The Seller prints the completed application form and sign/affix his or her seal onto the copy.
  2. The Seller posts or hands in the registration files to CPCC
  3. The Seller’s files are checked by CPCC. If approved, the Seller may continue to Step 9. If not approved, CPCC will inform the Seller as to the error(s) in the application.
  4. The Seller pays the registration fee and receives the “Notification of Receipt of the Application.”
  5. The Seller’s registration will be examined by CPCC. If approved, CPCC will issue the certificate for the newly-approved registration and make an announcement on their website to fulfill the final requirement of “public knowledge.”10

(A) Preempting Common Copyright Registration Issues

Even after a Seller has properly registered for, and acquired, copyright protections in China, the copyright law of the country allows for twelve exceptions that will not violate someone’s copyright. Depending on what the Seller is selling online, some of these may be more or less applicable to the individual’s situation:

  1. Personal use;
  2. “Appropriate” quotation in order to introduce, comment on, or explain;
  3. Use by the media to report current events;
  4. Republishing or rebroadcasting another media source’s story;
  5. Publishing/broadcasting a public speech;
  6. Use as a scientific work for purely teach or research purposes;
  7. Use by the government “to a justifiable extent for the purpose of fulfilling its official duties;”
  8. Reproduction for public display, such as a museum or library;
  9. A free live performance;
  10. Copying, drawing, photographing or video-recording a public artwork;
  11. Translation of a Chinese citizen’s work from Mandarin to a minority Chinese language, for distribution in China; and
  12. Transliteration of a published work into braille for publication.11

The Seller needs to be aware of these exceptions to the copyright protection. These are very similar to the American legal-system “Fair Use” exception but not exactly the same.

While the process of registering for copyright protection is relatively-straightforward, the reality on-the-ground in China is a far different story. A seller can have all the proper registration but that will not necessarily stop China’s rampant copycat problem. In a recent undertaking by Slate, the magazine found that nearly 90% of all DVDs distributed in China were unauthorized copies.12 Statistics like this have been very common in China and sellers should be aware that the country is routinely on the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) “Priority watch list” for common intellectual property infringers.13 China appeared on this list as recently as the 2017 report.14

Despite those realities, copyright protections are continuing to improve in China and a seller should certainly still register their rights in the country. China’s signing of the Berne Convention in 199215 was a recognition by the nation that they will meet the same minimum standards as many of the world’s other nations; such as giving copyright protection for the life of the author plus fifty years after their death.16 Furthermore, the 2017 USTR report positively reported on: positive statements by high-level Chinese officials on their goal to strengthen the nation’s intellectual property protections, the recognition of trade secrets as a form of intellectual property protection, a draft of a new e-commerce bill submitted for review in December of 2016, and expected to become law sometime in 2018.

AmazonSellersLawyer.com

This article was researched and written by CJ Rosenbaum, Esq., a founding partner of Rosenbaum Famularo, P.C., the law firm behind AmazonSellersLawyer.com and two incredible law students who participated in the firm’s Summer Associate Program: Conor Wiggins and Moshe Allweiss. Conor and Moshe are 2019 J.D. Candidates at the Hofstra University School of Law. For a more thorough explanation of Chinese Intellectual Property Law for Sellers, please request a copy of our book, Amazon Sellers’ Guide to Chinese Intellectual Property Law.


  1. WIPO-Administered Treaties, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?treaty_id=15

  2. How To File A Copyright Registration In China, China IPR (2018), http://www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu/sites/china-hd/files/public/v8_How_to_Register_Copyright.pdf.  

  3. WIPO-Administered Treaties, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?treaty_id=15

  4. How To File A Copyright Registration In China, China IPR (2018), http://www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu/sites/china-hd/files/public/v8_How_to_Register_Copyright.pdf.  

  5. Matthew Dresden, China Copyright Law: We Need to Talk, China Law Blog (Oct. 17, 2016), https://www.chinalawblog.com/2016/10/china-copyright-law-we-need-to-talk.html

  6. Copyright Protection Center of China (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.ccopyright.com/.  

  7. Id. 

  8. Id. 

  9. How To File A Copyright Registration In China, China IPR (2018), http://www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu/sites/china-hd/files/public/v8_How_to_Register_Copyright.pdf

  10. Id. 

  11. COPYRIGHT LAW OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, art. 22, § 4 (Feb. 26, 2010). 

  12. Christopher Beam, Bootleg Nation, Slate (Oct. 22, 2009), http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2009/10/bootleg_nation.html.  

  13. Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2017 Special 301 Report (last visited Mar. 25, 2017), https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/301/2017%20Special%20301%20Report%20FINAL.PDF

  14. Id. 

  15. WIPO-Administered Treaties, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?treaty_id=15

  16. Id. 

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