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Geneva (WIPO), Vienna

Peer to Peer Exchanges in Europe on the Reform of PRC Copyright Law

A delegation of the Legislative Affairs Commission at the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, led by the Director of the Civil Law department, currently working on the revision of the PRC Copyright Law successfully completed a study visit to Europe organised by IP Key under the umbrella of the “New EU-China cooperation on IPR”.

The LAC delegates engaged in technical meetings and exchanges with relevant EU experts on topics of interest for the legislative reform on Copyrights, which is a priority in the current Five Year Plan of the PRC. The meetings took place in Geneva (WIPO) and in Vienna, between May 17 and 23, 2014.

In Geneva the delegation entered into productive discussions with experts at WIPO. The topics of discussion in a full day meeting included: background and scope of the WIPO Treaties, including the Marrakesh and the Beijing Treaty on the protection of the audio-visual performances (recently adopted also by China but not yet in force pending the signature by the minimum number of countries required), the legal framework of broadcasting organizations as well as limitations and exceptions, resale rights and orphan works. All these topics are of particular interest to the Chinese legislators at this moment in time and the EU stakeholders have high expectations for the future legislative improvements, where China still has to fully comply with certain provisions in the WIPO Treaties.

In Geneva the delegation also had the chance to visit the School of Law of the local University in an interesting exchange concerning the liability of intermediaries and the international legal framework for the circulation of digital goods (exhaustion of rights), as well as to meet with representatives of two major EU Collective Management Societies, to get insights on the organization and functioning of these important actors in the Copyright protection scenario.

The study visits proceeded to Vienna, where meetings with academics, government officials and judges took place at the Austrian Ministry of Justice, to tackle other copyright related topics in the agenda (rules and remuneration criteria for commissioned works and works of employees, the features and advantages of a registration system, the public supervision of the Collective Management Societies, private copying levies, copyright judicial enforcement).

The discussions over monopoly/competition system in the Collective Management of rights raised special interest, in view of China’s currently re-considering and improving the Collective Management system that currently has five societies, each managing one repertoire of rights in a monopoly position.

Droits de Suite (resale rights) have also been largely addressed during the study visits, where the delegates had the chance to receive valuable feedback and information from different national and super-national perspectives: resale rights are not yet implemented in China, the latest draft revision introduces them in the legal system but the provisions still need to be improved and several practical aspects need to be addressed by the Chinese legislators, in the light of the characteristics of the Chinese market and society.

In the premises of the EPO in Vienna (IP Key partner), the delegation further entered into technical exchanges concerning the catalogue of rights (including rights of performers and broadcasting), the liability/position of Internet Service Providers and copyright enforcement (in particular online), with the participation of  experts from the law society and the industry.

Finally, on the last day of this five-day study visit, the delegation visited the Austrian Parliament and met with the President of the Parliament, before returning to Beijing with several new insights and meaningful considerations over the reform of the national Copyright Law.

The Peer to Peer Exchange will see a follow up seminar between EU and Chinese experts in the second part of 2014.

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