Fair use project

The core area identified by this project is in fair use of copyrighted works in the digital domain. Fair use seeks to strike a balance between the rights of content owners and those who seek to exploit the content for research, individual study, news gathering and other activities that fall in the public interest. Different jurisdictions have different ways of regulating fair use.

The aim of the project is in addressing the following sub-questions:

(a) What would be the value of fair use agreements in a China context?

(b) What can be learned from UK-China comparisons in areas of cultural practices and moral rights theory?

(c) In the digital space where content is frequently available across civil, common and mixed law jurisdictions is harmonization of ‘fair use’ terms in copyright dealings necessary or even possible?

China suffers from a reputational problem of excessive trade in counterfeit and/or pirated copies of copyrighted intangible works, such as music, films and e-books. There is another connected issue of exploitation of trade secrets obtained through cybercrime and commercial espionage. Despite these reputational issues, China is undoubtedly moving from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’ with the subsequent interest of Chinese producers, writers, directors, and artists who create original works to see such works protected through copyright, and subsequent commercial exploitation through legal licensing. How will these parties strike the right balance between those who access their content on fair use terms and those who need to pay market rates for commercial licenses?

Fair use encourages innovation, creativity, dissemination, more accurate and comprehensive news reporting, and research and development. Without an effective and balanced IP policy on fair use, societies keen on growing a knowledge economy will stagnate. Newscasters need access to rich sources of information to help enlighten society. Researchers in University centres of excellence, need access to timely information to assist with research and development and this has important implications for the training of the human capital base. Simultaneously, a too open policy on fair use will not sufficiently provide a regulatory environment where rights owners are rewarded for their investment in time and effort in creating original works, and often without sufficient remuneration in the early years of creation, and where reputation may not yet have developed.

Currently, the Chinese government is in the process of completing the third revision to its present Copyright Law. On the issue of fair use provisions, the government is attempting to balance the need to expand the list of exceptions with the interests of rights holders who wish for a stricter regime. There has been mixed opinion on both sides and the position remains to be clarified in the draft yet to be sent to the National People’s Congress and currently with the Chinese State Council. A significant question to address is whether the current list of fair use exceptions as set out in the draft Copyright Law is sufficient to meet the needs of business, civil society, academia and end-users in the electronic space or whether the list needs expansion or contraction in light of best practice?

This project brings collaboration from academia, Anglia Ruskin University in the UK, Peking University Law School and IP Academy, Xi'an Jiaotong University Law School and IP Research Centre in China, and business and regulatory (Dr Jiang Zhipei) an ex-Chief Judge of the IP Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court in China. Such a collaboration between the business interests of those who seek to exploit copyright, and those who seek to understand the interests of the public in exploiting the same copyright with those who have a deep understanding of both the practical and theoretical regulatory frameworks for the creation, exploitation and enforcement of copyright in China will create the necessary dialogue to find focus on fair use terms in digital copyright.

Research Design & Methodology

The project will be established through three distinct stages: Stage (1) market research of different interests groups on fair use terms in China; Stage (2) a survey of legal terms on fair use in different jurisdictions of the world (including China); and Stage (3) the drafting of policy recommendations on fair use for consideration by the Chinese government.

Stage 1 (market research): will focus on targeted market research of the user sector in China, the content generation sector, and the regulatory sector. The market research studies will seek to explore how these different sectors understand the term ‘fair use’ in the electronic context. Market research surveys will be conducted across China and will be managed by Peking University Law School and XJTU Law School.

Stage 2 (comparative analysis): will run concurrently with Stage 1 and will focus on a desk- based comparative survey of domestic law fair use terms, cultural practice and moral rights in different jurisdictions including China, and also provisions on fair use in the IP Schedules of regional trade agreements that include some of China’s largest trading partners by volume, such as the US, the EU, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil and Russia. The comparative analysis will incorporate a mixed methodology approach (mainly qualitative and black letter but also addressing non-doctrinal wider issues informing our response to the first part of the question, for example on cultural practices and moral rights theory).

The results of Stage 2 will create a database of terms and categories of usage that will be created for comparative study. Stage 2 will also see the research and drafting of a set of fair use contract templates. We will plan to showcase the database at a conference on fair use terms (China/UK conference on fair use of copyright terms in the digital domain)(see below for conference details), Beijing in September 2016.

Stage 3 (conclusions and dissemination): will draw together the results of Stages 1 and 2 to produce a report of policy recommendations on fair use. The Beijing conference will present and disseminate the project’s preliminary findings in September 2016. A draft written report, also drawing on feedback from the conference, will be scheduled for November 2016 with a final version ready for release by the project’s end in December 2016.  The project will look to the business partners to help furnish data on fair use contract templates on commercial fair use and the judiciary on regulation and enforcement.

The originality and innovativeness of the project

The planned research is very timely in that the draft third revision of the Copyright Act has yet to be finalised by the Chinese State Council, and approved and bought into law by the National Peoples’ Congress. The planned outputs of the project could therefore directly inform government policy before the final draft of the Copyright Act is passed into law. The field research interviews will capture a range of end-user and civil society opinion. Further, as far as we understand, no study on fair use as envisaged in Stage 2 (combining Chinese international trade treaty analysis and domestic law) has ever been done before. The research will seek to address the 'harmonization' issue posed at question (c) above. Finally (again as we understand), no database of fair use contract templates has ever been designed for public consumption in China.

The relevance of the project to China

An effective fair use policy will allow end users across China, whether from developed and/or underdeveloped regions, access to content that will enhance scientific and economic development and help to promote innovation and research, and development. Also, it will lead to greater pluralism and the strengthening of civil society. The collaboration envisaged by this project connects academia in both the UK and China, and incorporates both business and regulatory expertise in China. We believe that the outputs planned by this project will develop research partnerships and promote the economic development and welfare of China as a developing country.

We believe that improving the skills set of the human capital base in China through education will directly address issues of poverty and development. An effective fair use policy will enhance access to knowledge for the public good. As this project also directly impacts on the regulation (through effective and efficient regulation of copyright) of digital products and services, the outputs will help address digital divide issues both domestically within China (requiring the information rich to share content with end users across China by way of a balanced fair use policy), but also the international digital divide through incorporation of effective fair use terms in China's international trade agreements. The fair use project will generate knowledge and content, and provide training to enhance the social and cultural development of nationals of China.

The project will assist with developing research and innovation at the country level by helping to inform policy on fair use in copyright in the digital domain. Also, the project will help inform China's trade policy in IP with respect to China's international trade agreements with its largest trading partners. As such, the outputs envisaged by the project and the continuing collaboration of the research partners will help support the development of a research infrastructure that will contribute to China’s economic development and welfare.




  1. 在中国著作权环境下合理使用协议的价值是什么?从中英文化实践理论领域和道德权利理论对比中可以学到什么?
  2. 在数字领域版权内容经常跨越国内法,普通法和交叉混合的司法领域,著作权法中“合理使用”的和谐平衡是否有必要和有可能?
  3. 著作权合理使用的哪些例外对中国与其邻国和国际贸易伙伴之间的地区和双边贸易协议中有借鉴作用?




该合作项目有来自学术界,商业界和司法从业人员的参与,英国Anglia Ruskin法学院,北京大学法学院及知识产权学院和西安交通大学法学院及知识产权学院合作完成此项目,也有原中国最高人民法院知识产权审判庭庭长蒋志培博士参与该项目并从执法部门角度给予指导。这样的合作基于寻求理解版权开发的商业利益,公共利益,以及那些对于中国著作权创作,开发和执法理论和实践监管框架有着深刻理解的各界专家,为项目创造必要的沟通渠道去发现数字版权合理使用条款的焦点所在。


该项目将通过三个不同的阶段完成:第一阶段,对各利益方就关于版权合理使用做市场调研;第二阶段,在全球(包括中国)不同司法管辖领域就版权合理使用法律条款的学术调研; 第三阶段,向中国有关政府部门提交版权合理使用建议书。


第2阶段(对比分析):与第一阶段同时进行,集中在案头比较调查不同司法管辖领域包括中国国内法的合理使用条款,文化习俗和人格权,以及包括美国,欧盟,台湾,日本,韩国,德国,澳大利亚,马来西亚,巴西和俄罗斯等一些中国最大的贸易伙伴间区域贸易协定知识产权协议中的合理使用条款。对比分析将采用一种混合的方法途径(主要是通过质量的实地调研的和对法律条文的分析来进行,同时也讨论一些更广泛的非学术性问题为我们在文化习俗和人格权方面的问题提供答案)。第2阶段的对比研究是为创建版权合理使用条款和类别的大型数据库。通过共同许可协议。第2阶段也将研究和起草版权合理使用合同模板。我们计划向在2016年9月在北京的项目会议(中英数字域版权合理使用研讨会)向人们展示数据库。第3阶段(成果和传播) :将综合第1和2阶段的结果提出版权合理使用的政策建议报告。9月份在北京召开的项目会议将展示该项目的初步调研结果,报告草案也会在听取会议反馈后进一步修正,11月份完成一份正式书面报告。最终项目报告将于12月底该项目结束时发布。项目也会着眼寻求合作伙伴为合理使用合同模板提供关于商业合理使用和司法监管及执法数据。




一个有效的版权合理使用政策将允许所有中国的版权终端用户,无论是从开发和/或欠发达地区,可以接触到版权内容来帮助科学和经济的发展,并帮助促进创新和研发。此外,它会促使社会发展的多元化和紧密性。本项目的合作连接英国和中国学术界,并包括了中国的商业和司法领域的专家。我们相信,通过本项目将加强科研合作,促进中国作为一个发展中国家的经济和福利的发展。我们相信,通过改善中国人力资本技能的教育将直接解决贫困和发展问题。一个有效的合理使用政策将促进公众获取知识利益。该项目也直接影响(通过版权监管的有效和高效性)数字化产品和服务的监管,项目成果将不仅帮助解决中国国内数字领域的问题(需要一个平衡的合理使用政策使全中国的版权终端用户可以分享版权内容) ,还可以通过将有效合理使用条款纳入中国国际贸易协定来帮助解决国际数字领域问题。该科研项目所产生的知识和内容,和提供的培训,也可以促进中国社会和国民的文化发展。该项目通过帮助完善中国数字领域版权合理使用政策从而在全国范围内促进中国的科研和创新,并将有助于中国在国际贸易协定中关于知识产权贸易政策的制定。因此,该项目的科研成果和研究合作伙伴之间的继续合作,将有助于科研基础设施的发展,也利于中国社会经济和福利的发展