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Steps Taken to Protect Copyrights
China has a series of laws and regulations to protect audio-visual copyright owners.

The National People's Congress passes the General Principles of Civil Law in 1986, stating that citizens and licensees shall enjoy rights of ownership.

Copyright Law was adopted in September 1990 and becomes effective the following June. It was amended in October 2001 to revise sections that were against World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. New clauses are added to keep up with the advent of digital technology and the Internet. New rules to strengthen the fight against piracy are included.

In 1992, China joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Universal Copyright Convention and the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms. That September, the State Council adopted the Rules on the Implementation of International Copyright Conventions.

The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Punishing Crimes of Infringement upon Copyrights was adopted in July 1994.

The State Council announced the Regulations on the Control of Audio-visual Products in August 1994 - a section devoted to administrating audio-visual products in China. It was amended in December 2001, giving the green light to establish Chinese and overseas co-operatives to sell and rent audio-visual productions. The amended version also strengthens punishment for people smuggling and pirating audio-visual products. It forbids people who violated the regulation to be involved in the business for 10 years. The new regulation has been in effect since February this year.

The Regulations on the Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights was adopted by the State Council in July 1995. Two months later the General Administration of Customs announced detailed implementation methods for the regulations.

In 1997, the National People's Congress revised the Criminal Law, adding sections like "crime of infringing upon intellectual property rights."

Based on the Regulations on the Control of audio-visual Products, the Ministry of Culture announced administration regulations regarding wholesale, retail, renting and projecting audio-visual products in January 1996. Administration methods on importing audio-visual products were introduced in 1999. Both were revised earlier this year according to WTO rules.

In December last year, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation adopted administration methods for Chinese and overseas co-operative groups involved in the sale of audio-visual products.

(China Daily August 14, 2002)

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