As in many other countries, computer software may obtain copyright in China. The State Council published on June 4, 1991 the Regulations for the Protection of Computer Software (hereinafter referred to as the Regulations), which was effective from October 1, 1991. The Regulations clearly provides for the protection of computer software.
According to Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Regulations, the follows requirements shall be met in order for a computer software to get copyright protection:
1. The software shall be developed by the developer and is fixed in some form of tangible objects, such as RAM, ROM, disk, tape or CD ROM.
2. A Chinese citizen or unit enjoys copyright over the computer software which he or it has developed no matter if published or where published. A foreigner whose computer software has first been published in China will enjoy copyright over the software. While the software of a foreigner published abroad will enjoy copyright under the bilateral agreement between China and the country to which the foreigner is a citizen, or under international treaties to which both China and the country to which the foreigner is a citizen are members.
3. The protection of software does not cover the idea, concept, discovery, theory and method of calculating, processing procedure and method of operating used in the development of the software.
Since China is now a member of Berne Convention, according to the principles of national treatment and automatic protection, software developed by the citizen or resident of a member country, no matter published or not, will enjoy copyright in China. Software developed by a citizen of a non-member country will be protected under copyright if it is first published in a member country or published in a non-member country and a member country at the same time. There is no need to complete any procedure for the protection of the software.