54:2 Authorship in China (and Beyond): Authorship and Related Issues Under the Chinese Copyright Law of 1990

Abstract

Copyright vests initially in the author of a work. Anyone else can only acquire copyright through transfer. On this point, there is no difference between the copyright law in common law and the authors law in civil law. But as to the issue of who is the author of a work, the copyright law and the authors law have gone separate ways. While the authors law has invariably followed the creator-as-author rule regardless of the conditions under which a work is prepared, the copyright law has adhered to the rule as a principle and formulated the deemed-to-be-author rule as an exception in the case of works made for hire. The Chinese Copyright Act of 1990 received the deemed-to-be-author rule. But due to misunderstanding of the logic and rationale of the rule, many disputes have arisen since over the ownership of copyright in works made for hire and commissioned works, and different courts have rendered different judgments. The intended revision of the Law (Proposed Draft) has not made any improvement. If the issues are not well addressed, more disputes will continue to arise in the future.