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Artists better protected after copyright changes

By Du Liya (Global Times)

14:19, November 02, 2012

The draft amendment of China's Copyright Law, which aims to better protect the rights of copyright holders, will be submitted to the State Council before the end of the year, said the General Administration of Press and Publication Tuesday.

The draft lists additional conditions under which a user of copyrighted works is required to pay the copyright holder.

It also closes a loophole that allows users under some circumstances to not pay the copyright holder.

The draft stipulates that users of copyrighted works must pay use fees to copyright collectives such as those representing writers, musicians and photographers even when the artist or author is unknown.

"Many users have been avoiding payment by using works that are written anonymously or in pen name, the new draft will effectively end this practice," said Zhao Hu, a lawyer specializing in copyright at the Beijing-based Hanzhuo Law Firm.

"Copyright holders can receive payments owing to them through their respective collectives," Zhao told the Global Times.

The draft also lifts the compensation standard for infringement of copyrighted works and includes a provision for punitive damages.

"The initiative of writers or artists is hurt when they are unable to get paid for long periods of time," Zhang Hongbo, secretary-general of the China Written Works Copyright Society, was quoted by the Beijing Morning Post as saying Thursday.

"The point of the draft is to meet the increasing demand of copyright holders and help the industry grow in a better and healthier direction," said Zhang.

Zhao also noted that the law is often seen as merely a guideline, and what matters more is effective enforcement.

The draft amendment has been twice submitted to the public seeking input. The last round ended in late October.

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