The Chinese government has passed a new regulation to ban the uploading and downloading of Internet material without the copyright holder's permission.
Under the regulation, effective from July 1, anyone uploading texts, and performance, sound and video recordings to the Internet for the purposes of allowing others to download, copy or use them in some other manner must first acquire the permission of copyright owners and pay any required fee.
The production, import and supply of devices that are capable of evading or breaching technical measures of copyright protection and technical services are also prohibited under the regulation, as is deleting or changing digital material belonging to someone else.
The regulation was developed on the principle that it must balance the interests of copyright owners, Internet service providers and users of copyrighted works, said an official with the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council.
Violations of copyright through the Internet usually involves relatively small sums of money, so the regulation has adopted the international practice of "notice and delete" to handle disputes, the official said.
Copyright owners can send copyright violators a written notice and demand that Internet providers delete violators' works or links to their works, the regulations said.
Internet providers are obliged to do so upon receipt of a valid notice from a bona fide copyright owner.
The new regulation provides for fines up to 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) and the confiscation of computer equipment for copyright violation.
China is the world's second-largest Internet market after the United States with more than 110 million users.
Last September, baidu.com, a leading Chinese search engine, was sued by a Chinese music firm for 68,000 yuan (US$8,400) because baidu's search function violated the Shanghai-based company's copyright. Last month, a technology company developing MP3 download software, Kuro, was sued in the first case involving P2P (peer to peer) downloading in China.
(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2006)