Protecting Copyright Online in China: Register First

This is the fourth in a series about taking down copyrighted subject matter illegally stored or posted online without the approval of the copyright owner. The first article provided a general summary of the regulations that establish the takedown procedures. These regulations enable enforcement of the “right of communication through an information network” as it applies to sound recordings and audiovisual recordings. In the second article, we looked at how online storage providers encounter greater liability than those merely providing searching or linking services. The application of the takedown regulations to cloud service providers was covered in our last installment.

One thing is very clear among China lawyers who are handling more and more takedown work these days: if you ever expect to have infringing content taken down, the single most important thing you should do is register your copyright in China in advance.

The reason for this is simple. If you attempt to invoke China’s notice and takedown system, the Internet service provider will require you to show proof. If you don’t have a Chinese copyright registration certificate ready to go you will need to prove your copyright ownership. Though Chinese network service providers all have their own requirements for this, all of them will ask to see numerous chain-of-title documents that have been translated into Chinese. These documents will be essentially the same as those required to obtain a registration anyway. Once you have proven your ownership to a particular network service provider, all you will have to show for work will be the removal of infringing content in that one instance. If numerous sites are involved in infringement, or if your content reappears on a site from which it was taken down, you will have to repeat this exercise again and again.

So speed up the takedown process, and have something to show for your work, by registering your copyrights in China. If you have your chain-of-title ducks in a row it will be quick and inexpensive to obtain a registration, and you will then be ready to strike.

—A version of this article was first published on the China Law Blog.