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How to register the copyright of a computer software?

According to the regulations of the copyright in China, once it has been created, a work automatically obtains copyright with no need for registration. "The Copyright Law" of the P.R.C. does not provide that the copyright must be obtained after registration, either. "The Regulation of P.R.C. on the Protection of Computer Software" provides in Article 24 that the registration of the software copyright is the prerequisite of bringing an administrative or law suit on the disputes of software right in the light of the special characteristic of software. Yet, on December 24,1993, the Supreme Court of the P.R.C. issued the "Notice on the Issues of Implementing the Copyright Law of P.R.C.", Article 3 of the Notice provides that "Where the party concerned brings a law suit on the dispute of computer software copyright, the people's court shall accept it after examination, provided it accords with Article 108 of the Civil Procedure Law of the P.R.C., no matter whether the software has been registered in the related departments." This regulation negates that the registration of software is the prerequisite of bringing a law suit.

However, software registration is actually advantageous to the copyright holder because the registration documents issued by the registration authority is the preliminary evidence of the validity of the software copyright, and it's a good way to introduce the products to the society through the regular proclamation of the registration authority.

The computer software registration authority is the China Computer Software Registration Centre under the State Copyright Office.

The China Computer Software Registration Centre enacted and implemented "The Methods for the Registration of Copyright of Computer Software" (hereinafter referred to as "Registration Methods" on April 6,1992. According to these rules, attention needs to be paid to the following matters in applying for the registration of computer software copyright:

1. Eligibilities of the applicants of registration The applicant must be the copyright holder of the software or his/her successor or assignee.

2. The documents required when applying for registration
1). application form;
2). description of the software work;
3). materials for identification of the software work, including that of programs and of files;
4). identification of the applicant;
5). the written agreement on the attribution of the copyright in relation to the software created jointly or under a commission;
6). the certification of the inheritance or assignment of the copyright where the applicant is the successor or assignee of the copyright.

The agencies in China may be entrusted to apply for the registration of computer software.

According to the Registration Methods, after receiving the application for registration, as for those which comply with the regulations, the China Computer Software Registration Centre will give the acceptance number, confirm the acceptance date and inform the applicant (or his agent) in writing. The Registration Centre will examine it and approve the application which comply with the requirements of registration, granting the related registration certificate and publishing it in the China Computer Newspaper, while reject those which do not comply with the requirements.

Anyone may challenge the validity of the registered and published software to the Registration Centre. The Registration Centre will send the copy of the objection to the objected person. The objected person shall give a written reply within a fixed period. For those who do not give a written reply in due time without justified reasons, the registration is regarded void and will be published. After examination, the Registration Centre will cancel the registration if it finds the objection is justified, notify the opponent and the applicant and publish decision. If it finds the objection is unjustified, the Registration Centre will reject it.

Where the applicant does not agree with the decision rejecting the registration application, or the decision cancelling the registration because the objection is justified, he may, within 60 days from the date of receipt of the notification, request the Software Registration Reexamination Board to make a reexamination. The Reexamination Board shall accept the request, and notify the applicant in writing after making the reexamination decision.

After getting the approval from the Software Registration Centre, the applicant may, within the period of validity of the software copyright, request at any time to alter or supplement the items in the registration documents which are permitted to be altered or supplemented. However the content of the materials for identification of the software may not be altered or supplemented.

Where the software copyright is partly or wholly transferred by inheritance, assignment or licencing, the successor, assignee or the licencee may make a report to the Software Registration Centre for the record.

Under the permission of the Software Registration Centre, anybody may review the software registration publications, published application forms for the software copyright registration, identification materials and software registration book. Application shall be presented and fees for the review paid.

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