China's New Copyright Law Reforms: A Comparative Analysis

Shruti Rana, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Garland Rowland

Document Type Article


Nations and businesses around the globe have been battling over copyright protection rules, with industrialized nations pressuring developing nations to adopt Western-style copyright regimes. These battles have escalated as copyright piracy grows and developing nations struggle to formulate laws that will protect their own intellectual properties as well as those of industrialized nations.

China is at the cutting edge of these debates; in the summer of 2012, China released transformative new proposals to modify its copyright rules. This Article, which we believe is the first in-depth academic piece analyzing China’s new reforms, critiques China’s new proposals and argues that China must develop a hybrid system of copyright protection that explicitly protects both foreign and Chinese intellectual property. In particular, we argue that China should expand public awareness of copyright rules and their functions as well as tighten its copyrights laws to establish a more effective copyright regime. We conduct a comparative analysis of copyright regimes in the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Taiwan, and argue that China should adopt the approach of its Eastern neighbors while strengthening its current copyright rules, which were originally transplanted from the West. We propose recommendations for reform of China’s copyright system that are tailored to China’s societal norms for protection of intellectual property as well as China’s particular cultural and legal context.

Our recommendations also seek to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western copyright rules, and are therefore of great importance not just to China, but also to the U.S. and Western governments and companies. Our ultimate goals are to enhance public awareness of copyright rules and to lay the groundwork for a hybrid East/West approach to copyright protection that is appropriate to a globalized world composed of individual nations, each with their own historical and legal contexts.