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Introduction of Computer Software protection in China

Computer software is one of the objects protected by the Copyright law of the People's Republic of China. In order to further protect the rights and interests of computer software copyright owners and promote the development of software industry and national economy informatization, The State Council promulgated the new "Regulations on the Protection of Computer Software" on December 12, 2001, which came into force on January 1, 2002. The regulations clearly and specifically stipulate the copyright protection of computer software.




The object of software copyright protection is computer program and its related documents. The subject of software copyright protection includes the developer who enjoys the copyright or other right owners who have obtained the copyright through transfer, inheritance or transfer. Since China has acceded to the Berne Convention, when a piece of computer software is completed in one of its member states, its copyright is automatically protected in China. However, for a piece of computer software completed in a non-member state to be protected in China, the software must first be published in a member state. The term of protection of a natural person's software copyright shall be a natural person's lifetime and 50 years after his death. The software is co-developed and expires 50 years after the death of the last natural person to die. The term of protection of the software copyright of a legal person or other organization shall be 50 years after the first publication of the software.




Computer software registration




According to Chinese law and practice, the copyright of a piece of computer software need not be registered in China. However, in order to deal with computer software copyright disputes more conveniently, it is suggested to register computer software copyright. This is because the software copyright registration certificate will be regarded as the prima facie evidence that the software copyright owner owns the software copyright in the software copyright litigation process, and the registration certificate is valid nationwide in China.




In order to obtain computer software copyright registration in China, a foreign applicant may entrust a Chinese agent to apply for registration at the Software Registration Center of the Copyright Administration of China. Our firm can represent Chinese or foreign applicants for computer software copyright registration and other matters.




(1) Necessary information and documents:

1. The application form for registration must be signed by the applicant; If there are more than one applicant, it may be signed by all the applicants or signed by one applicant on behalf of the other applicants and accompanied by a letter of authorization issued by the other applicants;

2. Applicant's name, address (including postcode), nationality and id card number; If the applicant is a company, the name and telephone number of the contact person. The applicant must be the copyright owner. Please also specify:

1) Whether the applicant is the original copyright owner or the successor or assignee of the copyright. If the successor or assignee is required to provide a notarized copy of the certificate of succession or transfer;

2) All states of the software copyright, that is, independent or co-owned;

3. Proof of the applicant's identity, i.e. 

1) If the applicant is an individual, a notarized copy of his/her ID card;

2) a notarized copy of the business license if the applicant is a company;

4. Name, address and nationality of the developer of the software. Please also indicate how the software was developed, i.e., independently or collaboratively or on commission or as a work task. If the ownership of copyright is involved in the development, please also provide a notarized copy of the relevant contract or transfer certificate;

5. The name (including full name and abbreviation), classification number, version number, completion date, and date and place of first publication (if published) of the software;

6. The type of software, i.e., original or adapted or synthesized or translated. If it is not original, please provide the name, version number and registration number (if any) of the original software, and the authorization letter from the owner of the original software to consent to the modification, synthesis or translation, with a brief description (no more than 100 words) of the basis for obtaining the copyright, and indicate whether the original software has been published. If the software is synthetic, briefly describe the content taken from the original software;

7. Hardware environment, including the name and model of the computer used to develop the software, the name and model of the main computer running the software and other computers, the minimum memory and external storage space (KB or MB) required for running the software and other peripheral devices required;

8. Software environment, including the name and version number of the operating system, the name and version number of the supporting environment, the name and version number of the programming language used to compile the software, the length (item) of the source program, and the name, specification and model of the storage medium of the software;

9. Applicable industry, the main application industry of the software and the main use in these industries;

10. Retail price or quotation (US$);

11. A brief description of the software (no more than 500 words), including the development purpose, main functions and performance of the software and other technical features; If the software is adapted, including the development purpose of the newly added parts, main functions and performance and other technical characteristics;

12. For the list of source programs, 20 consecutive pages at the beginning, middle and end of the list of source programs may be submitted, or, if the list of source programs is less than 60 pages, the list of source programs in its entirety;

13. Documentation: Submit at least one of the following:

1) Design specification;

2) User manual;

3) Maintenance manual;

4) Operation manual;

5) Program flow chart; Twenty consecutive pages of the front, middle and tail of such material may be submitted, or, if such material is less than 60 pages, all of it.

(II) Notes:

1. If the list of source procedures and/or documentation materials contain trade secrets and/or other secrets which the applicant does not wish to disclose, the applicant may request, at the time of submission, an exception to the depositing of such materials, provided that a valid reason is provided. Once the request is approved by China Software Registration Center, the applicant may submit the source program manifest/documentation materials in either of the following ways:

1) 20 consecutive pages at the beginning, middle and end of the list of source programs and/or documentation materials, in which the confidential part shall be covered with black lines, but the coverage shall not exceed 30% of the materials deposited;

2) the first 10 pages of the source list and/or documentation material, plus 50 consecutive pages of any portion thereof;

3) 20 consecutive pages each of the front, middle and tail of the object program, plus 20 consecutive pages of any part of the source program list;

2. After the registration application is approved, the applicant may request the China Software Registration Center to seal all or the main part of the source program list for the convenience of obtaining evidence later, and specify the length of the source program list and the sealing period. China Software Registration Center will seal up and keep the list of source programs, and shall not unseal it without the permission of the applicant or the decision of the court.

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