What is copyright?

Copyright is a property right established in law. It grants a creator of an original work control over how it can be used for a period of time.

Copyright protects the expression of an idea as it is recorded, but not the idea itself. It arises automatically on creation.

Copyright is part of a wider family of intellectual property rights which are granted to owners or creators of creative works. Others include: patents, trademarks, design rights, database rights and performance rights.


Copyright gives the owner the right to allow, or prevent others from:

  • copying the work, including photocopying, scanning, recording, or downloading from the internet;
  • issuing copies of the work to the public i.e. publishing it either in print or electronically;
  • renting, or lending copies of the work to the public;
  • performing, showing, playing, or broadcasting the work to the public;
  • and, adapting the work, including translation.

These economic rights can be transferred, bought and sold. Some specific rights cannot be transferred in Chines law:

  • the right of publication or deciding when a work is made available to the public;
  • the right of authorship, to be claim ownership and be recognised at the author;
  • the right of alteration or for other’s authorise other’s to alter a work;
  • and, the right of integrity or protection against the distortion and mutilation of a work.