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What Contents does Software Copyright Protect in China?

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Generally speaking, software copyright refers to the computer software copyright. As is known to all, Chinese laws protect the computer software copyright a lot. Then, what contents does software copyright protect? This is a point of interest for the public. Now, BC will present a detailed introduction to it.

I. What contents does software copyright protect?

1. Computer program: It refers to code instruction sequenc implemented on the devices (such as computers) with information processing ability or symbolic instruction/statement sequence that can be automatically transformed into code instruction sequence so as to get certain results. The computer program consists of source and target programs.

2. Documents: They refer to the text materials and charts used to describe the contents, compositions, designs, functions, developments, test results and usage methods of the program, such as program design specifications, flow charts and user manuals.

3. Copyright owner: The natural person, legal person or other organization who owns the copyright of the software.

4. The protection of computer software copyright does not extend to the ideas, processing processes, operation methods or mathematical concepts etc. used on the developed software.

II. What're the limits of software copyright?

Copyright Law often exerts some limits on the rights of copyright owner to achieve a balance between the copyright owner’s benefits and the society’s entire benefits. The limits on software copyright in China are as follows:

1. Time limit: There is no limit on the period of protection of the software developer's right of authorship. Other protection periods of software copyright are 25 years and end on December 31 of the 25th year since the initial publishment. Before the expiry of protection period, the copyright owner may apply for an extension of 25 years at the Software Registration Authority, but the protection period shall not exceed 50 years. If the copyright owner changes legally due to legal acts like the inheritance, the division or the merger of unit, the corresponding protection period of software copyright will not change. If relevant rights are transferred due to the signing of right to use or right to use license contract, the occurrence of the transfer will not change the protection period of relevant software copyright. When the unit or citizen owning the software copyright terminates or dies and there is no legal successor, except for the developer’s right of authorship, all other rights related to the software will enter the public domain before the expiry of protection period.

2. During the protection period, if the software shall be copied in small amounts due to noncommercial purposes like classroom teaching, scientific research and national authorities’ requirements, no compensation will be paid to the copyright owner no matter the copyright owner consents or not.

3. The software copyright owner shall not weaken the public benefits and violate other laws.

4. The legal owner of software copies may install the software onto computer, manufacture backup copies or make necessary modifications without the consent of the software copyright owner.

Above is a brief introduction to the protection contents of computer software copyright. It is hoped that it will offer you some help. While protecting the computer software copyright, you shall also pay attention to its limits. If you have any doubt about the above contents, please call or send emails to us for more information.

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