China's New Copyright Law Reforms: a Comparative Analysis

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

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 while developing nations struggle to formulate laws that will protect their own intellectual property, 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 to my knowledge 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, this Article argues that China should expand public awareness of copyright rules and their functions as well as tighten its copyright laws to establish a more effective copyright regime. This Article conducts a comparative analysis of copyright regimes in the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Taiwan, and argues that China should adopt the implementation approach of its Eastern neighbors, while strengthening its existing copyright rules (originally transplanted from the West). This Article also proposes 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.

These recommendations also seek to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western copyright rules, and therefore are of great importance not just to China, but also to the United States, as well as other Western governments and companies. The ultimate goals of this Article are to enhance international public awareness of copyright rules, and lay the groundwork for a hybrid East/West approach to copyright protection more appropriate to a globalized world composed of individual nations, each with their own historical and legal contexts.