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BIC judges brief impact of newly-amended Copyright Law on judicial protection of short videos

Beijing Internet Court | Updated: 2021-06-21


During a recently livestreamed program focusing on legal education, two judges from the Beijing Internet Court (BIC) talked about the newly–amended Copyright Law and its impact on the trials of short video cases.

Zhang Lianyong, deputy presiding judge of the 2nd Comprehensive Division of the BIC, gave a brief introduction to the short video cases that the BIC has heard, particularly regarding the features of the cases and the challenges involved in the trial work. Zhang also gave some suggestions for the healthy development of the short video industry.

Through presenting typical cases related to short videos, Yan Jun, deputy presiding judge of the court's 1st Comprehensive Division, illustrated the features and challenges of this area of law.

The intellectual property rights-related cases keep running high in China due to the development of digital industrialization and digitalization of industry, as well as the in-depth integration of industries with network, according to Yan, adding that new challenges have emerged in terms of judicial practices.

On the judgment of short video right attribution

According to the newly-amended Copyright Law, short videos which can constitute "works", can be classified as audio-visual works separate to films and TV plays. The ownership of copyright will be determined by agreement. Given the absence of an agreement, or where the agreement is vague, copyright will be owned by the producers. 

On the identification of the copyright nature of short videos

As images that can be played continuously, there are obvious differences in the degree of protection for the obligee in terms of whether the short video is a work or a product. The courts need to examine whether the involved video has originality, according to the newly-amended Copyright Law, so as to determine whether the short video claimed by the obligee is an audio-visual work or a video product. 

On the handling of short videos with defected rights 

If a short video produced using other's work without permission can form a new work according to the provisions of the Copyright Law, it can be protected, but its exercise of copyright is restricted by the original copyright owner. 

On the appropriate utilization of short videos

The newly-amended Copyright Law has adopted the principle provisions of the original Copyright Law on the reasonable use of short videos, and also provided provisions for other circumstances stipulated by laws and administrative regulations, which makes the law more legislatively inclusive in terms of the development of emerging industries, including the short video industry.

On the determination of platform responsibilities

The judicial organ should, in strict accordance with the relevant provisions of the Copyright Law, accurately understand the national strategy and judicial policy of strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, pursue a balance between rights holders, social public interests and industrial development, and determine the responsibility of the platforms according to law.

The newly-amended Copyright Law solves some difficult issues in the judicial protection of short videos. Yet challenges remain in the improvement of supporting regulations and the implementation process. The BIC suggests :

- That producers reinforce copyright awareness.

- That platforms and relevant bodies play their due roles in copyright management. They are encouraged to use means allowed by law to protect creativity, enhance development of copyright comparison libraries and boost mutual authorization between short and long video platforms.