The Chinese Copyright Law applies the principle of automatic protection. Article 2 of the Copyright Law provides that "Works of Chinese citizens, corporate and non-corporate units shall enjoy copyright protection pursuant to this Law, regardless of whether or not the works are published. Works of foreigners that are first published within Chinese territory shall enjoy copyright protection pursuant to this Law. Works of foreigners published outside Chinese territory shall enjoy copyright protection in accordance with agreements signed between China and the relevant country or according to international treaties to which they are members and shall receive protection pursuant to this Law."
Since China has joined the Berne Convention, the works of foreigners shall be applied the principle of national treatment and the principle of automatic protection, i.e.:
1.The citizens of the member countries or the citizens of a country other than member countries but with habitual residence in the member countries shall automatically enjoy copyright protection in China upon the finishing of the works.
2.A work of a citizen of a country other than member countries initially published in any one of the member countries or initially published in any one of the member countries and in a country other than member countries simultaniously, shall also obtain the copyright in China in the same time.
Under the Chinese Copyright Law, the right of signature, right of amendment and right to protect the integrety of a work shall be permanently enjoyed by the author without being restricted by the copyright protection period. For the right of publication, right of use and right to receive renumeration, the period for copyright protection is:
1. In relation to the work of an individual citizen, the protection period shall comprise of the period of the author's lifetime and 50 years after his death, concluding on December 31 of the fiftieth year after his death;
2. In relation to the works of corporate or non-corporate units, occupational works whose copyright belongs to corporate or non-corporate units, and film, video and photograph works, the protection period shall be 50 years, concluding on December 31 of the fiftieth year after a work's initial publication. If, however, a work is not published within 50 years of its creation, copyright protection under the Chinese Copyright Law shall not continue to apply.