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Copyright Protection: Entering the safe harbor?

Entering the safe harbor?


Li Dongtao

The Facts

This is a 2009 case.

The plaintiff is a software company and entitled to the copyright of the online game ARCHOR.

The defendant is a .com company offering search engine service.

On June 28th 2008, the plaintiff specified the key word “ARCHOR” by using the search engine at the defendant’s website and found lots of websites offering the decrypted ARCHOR game. 

Copyright Protection: So many, why?

So many, why?



Judge Li

Why so many works and so many rights?

The history of American copyright law may be an answer.

In May 1790, the first Congress adopted first American copyright statute. It protected only maps, charts and books.

In 1865, photographs and photographic negatives were included.

In 1912, another technologically new expressive form, motion pictures, was brought within the ambit of law.

In 1971, sound recordings were added to the protected list.

Copyright Protection: So many works

So many works


Judge Li

Copyright regulates the legal relationship between the author and his work.

Works protected by copyright include literary, scientific, artistic, musical, photographic and cinematographic works as well as computer programs.

In China, according to the Article 3 of China’s Copyright Law (2001), the term "works" includes works of literature, art, natural science, social science, engineering technology and the like which are expressed in the following forms:

    (1) written works;

Copyright Protection: Two sides of a coin

Two sides of a coin



Judge Li

Copyright is not a single right, but a set of exclusive rights.

Like two sides of a coin, the copyright can be divided into two parts that are inextricably interlinked: moral rights and exploitation right.

  1. Moral rights.

The work is the author’s brainchild.

Copyright Protection: a special case

A special case: the law is lagging behind the progress of technology?



Judge Li

This is a 1999 case.

The plaintiffs are six well-known Chinese writers. 

The defendant is a .com company operating a commercial website. 

In April 1998, the defendant uploaded some novels of six plaintiffs onto its website without their permissions and put a copyright notice saying “Copyright Reserved” at the bottom of every webpage. 

Translated Decisions: