An amendment to the copyright law to strengthen copyright protection was passed by China's top legislature on Wednesday after a third deliberation.
The amendment, adopted after a vote at the end of the 23rd standing committee session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), is expected to strengthen the protection of the copyright holders, raising the ceiling of statutory damages from 500,000 yuan (around 75,500 U.S. dollars) to 5 million yuan.
It also created a compensation floor of 500 yuan for violators of the copyright law.
Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, told the closing meeting after the vote that legal weapons should be put into better use to enhance intellectual property rights protection and safeguard the entitlement of the creators, disseminators and users.
He also urged intensified law enforcement and punishment of infringement acts to provide a desirable legal environment for innovation and creation.
It is widely believed that the revisions, with the introduction of punitive damages, will serve as a stronger deterrent against copyright infringement.
Legal experts have said the key to copyright protection is to make sure the penalty is higher than the gains from violations. They believe the new amendment to China's Copyright Law would further strengthen the copyright protection measures stipulated in the law which was first enacted in 1991 and amended in 2001 and 2010.
According to the amendment, in the process of litigation, the alleged infringers who claimed irresponsibility should produce evidence of obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
Some adjustments in expression were made in the law, including changing "citizens" to "natural persons" and "other organizations" to "unincorporated organizations" so as to make the amended copyright law more consistent with other civil laws in expression.
The amendment adds that the authorities shall have the power to inquire of the parties concerned, investigate illegal acts, conduct on-site inspections, consult and copy relevant materials and seal up and detain relevant places and goods during investigations.
It states that the reproductions of infringements should be destroyed upon the request of the obligees other than in exceptional cases.
The amendment adds that the materials, tools and facilities mainly used for the reproductions of infringements should be destroyed without any compensation.
The latest amendment will come into force on June 1 next year according to an NPC Standing Committee decision issued on Wednesday.