Regulations Concerning Distribution Right Appointment of Domestic Films of Between 1 October 1949 and 30 June 1993
In order to further implement the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, implement the State Council “Regulations Concerning Further Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights Protection Work”, continue to deepen film sector structural reform, promote film undertaking development, with the agreement of the National Copyright Administration, hereby, the following regulations are made concerning the question of distribution right appointment of domestic films from between 1 October 1949 and 30 June 1993:
According to the provisions of relevant items in the “Ministry of Culture Five Provisional Regulations Concerning Film” issued in 1950 by the Administrative Council, in the beginning of the establishment of the New China, domestic films are one whole, their copyrights (including publication rights, revision rights, paternity rights, rights such as production, distribution, exhibition, editing, broadcasting, etc.), revert to the possession of the film studio.
In May 1953, the original Ministry of Culture Film Bureau, in order to implement unified and centralized government management over the film sector, implement a planned economy operational method with planned production, unified state purchasing and marketing and a centralized bursary system, issued the “Ministry of Culture Film Department Directive Concerning Powers, Responsibilities, Professional Scope and Financial Relations of Film Enterprises Practicing Economic Accounting” (hereafter named Document (53)FK No. 1682), decided to adopt the conduct of specialized labour division of the film sector according to production, distribution, provision and development, etc., providing “Film studios have film shooting, film dubbing and printing copies as main professions”. “Film distribution companies have purchasing completed film distribution rights, film distribution, selling of copies, selling or exchanging of domestic and foreign distribution rights as main professions. After promulgation of this document, domestic film distribution rights were separated according to administrative regulations from the complete copyright, and appointed to the China Film Distribution Company (hereafter named China Film Company) for purchase and enjoyment. And a history of 40 years of dislocation between production and demand of our country’s domestic film was shaped, this was a sort of administrative step adopted in the planned economy system of that time, but is not suited to the present socialist market economy policy and relevant laws and regulations.
After the 3rd plenum of the 11th Party Congress, in the middle of the Eighties, although film studios and distribution companies conducted reform probes successively of a part of film distribution time limits, distribution methods, profit distribution, etc., but all have not yet addressed the question of appointment of distribution rights. According to the provisions of the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”: the producer of film works enjoys the use rights and the right of obtaining remuneration over film works, including obtaining remuneration through authorizing use of film works in the methods of reproduction and distribution. It can be seen that film distribution rights significantly affects all film studios’ existence and development, and directly influences the flourishing of film creation.
In order to make film creation flourish, benefit the promotion of the economic film system reform, adapt to the socialist market economy development, according to relevant provisions of the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, as well as the State principle concerning administrative regulations having to conform to law and may not contradict State laws, with the agreement of the National Copyright Administration, it is decided to abolish Document (53)FK No. 1682, and on the basis of relevant provisions of the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, make the following regulations on the appointment of distribution rights of domestic films (including feature films, documentary films, science films and art films) from between 1 October 1949 and 30 June 1993:
I, Definition of distribution rights of domestic film from between 1 October 1949 and 30 June 1993
Distribution rights as noted in the original Ministry of Culture Film Bureau Document (53)FK No. 1682 from 1953, according to the international and domestic film technology level and dissemination means of that time, referred to the right of the holder to provide film copies during a specified time limit, in order to satisfy screening venues’ film screening requirements, to cinemas, mobile screening teams, clubs, film and theatre buildings, etc., by methods such as renting, lending, selling, etc. Therefore, the question of distribution rights as regulated at that time, mainly was limited to the distribution rights of providing film copies (for projection through projectors) to screening venues, and generally did not include distribution rights using film works in other ways. But following scientific and technological development, and the appearance of multimedia, film distribution rights have progressively expanded from cinema copy distribution rights and cinema screening rights, to include film work magnetic tape distribution rights and television station broadcasting, publication and distribution of recorded products as well as printing publications and corresponding particular products, etc. Because of this, These Regulations concerning film distribution rights also include the question of using film works through other means.
II, Concerning domestic film distribution appointment and use limits.
Distribution rights of domestic films from between 1 October 1949 and 31 May 1993 purchased by China Film Company according to Document (53)FK No. 1682, according to the relevant provisions of the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, integrating the real circumstances, are to be dealt with according to the following methods:
(1) Domestic films bought by China Film Company between 1 October 1949 and 31 May 1991:
1, Where China Film Company has not signed a contract with each film studio or there is no concrete contractual time limit agreement despite there being a contract, enjoyment of distribution rights will revert to the film studio.
2, Where the contractual time limit exceeds ten years (including films with perpetual film distribution rights or one-time sale to China Film Company such as “The Tree of Life and Death” and “Moment of Truth”, according to the provision in the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China” that contractual time limits may not exceed ten years, ten years beginning from the date of signing the contract, after the contractual time limit ends, distribution rights revert to the film studio, where it is necessary, both parties may sign a continuing contract.
(2) Domestic films bought by China Film Company after the date of implementation of the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, i.e. 1 June 1991 and 30 June 1993:
1, Where China Film Company has not signed a contract with film studios or there is not concrete contractual time limit agreement despite there being a contract, the time limit to be used is to be fixed through negotiation by both parties. Where both parties cannot reach an identical opinion in negotiation, distribution rights are to be dealt with according to five years, i.e. after five years from the date of signing the contract (where there is no contract, from the date of starting distribution of copies), enjoyment of distribution rights reverts to the film studios.
2, Where the contractual time limit is within ten years, the contractual time limit shall be implemented.
3, Where the contractual time limit exceeds ten years, such as films like “The Profound Courtyard”, according to the provision in the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China” that contractual time limits may not exceed ten years, ten years beginning from the date of signing the contract, after the contractual time limit ends, distribution rights revert to the film studio, where it is necessary, both parties may sign a continuing contract.
(3) Concerning China Film Company’s use of film works through other methods such as film tape distribution rights, recorded programme publication and distribution rights, television station broadcast rights, etc., this shall be dealt with according to the following methods:
1, Where China Film Company’s contracts with film studios include use of film works through other methods, it shall be implemented according to the contract, but the one-time contractual validity period may not exceed ten years.
2, For situations where finished film tape products are already produced by China Film Company, and already sold, and exceeding of contractual time limits occurs in the selling work unit, as well as where the original contract does not include use of film works through other means, China Film Company continues implementation, and guarantees that the selling work unit has lawful sale rights. But where after implementation of these Regulations, China Film Company still has selling income, it shall be considered as agency work, and both parties negotiate a representation fee. Where both parties cannot reach an identical opinion in negotiation, the China Film Company agency fee is to be collected according to 15% of the total distribution income amount, 85% of the total distribution income amount shall revert to the film studio.
III, Concerning the question of domestic films exported before 30 June 1993
(1) Where there already domestic film foreign distribution rights contracts signed by China Film Company with foreign parties, it shall be implemented according to the original contract. Where China Film Company provides continuous supervising and implementing for the original contracting work unit, after the contract validity expires, foreign distribution rights revert to the film studio.
(2) Where exporting domestic films exceeds the period of validity of the contract signed with the film studio, and after implementation of these Regulations, China Film Company still has sales income, it shall be seen as export agency work, foreign income division shall be handled according to relevant State export regulations.
IV, The methods of dealing with film copies stored by all provincial, autonomous region and municipal and local, city and county film distribution companies are:
(1) Questions of appointment of domestic stored film copies and film works used in other ways distributed between 1 October 1949 and 30 June 1993, shall be implemented according to these Regulations. All distribution and screening work units may not distribute or screen stored film copies exceeding contractual time limits, and may also not use in other ways stored film copies exceeding contractual time limits.
(2) Distribution companies or film copy holders of film copies stored in excess of contractual validity and needing to be screened again or film works used in other ways, shall conclude an agreement with the film studio again.
(3) Stored film copies not being screened again must be discarded as useless and desilvered or the waste films are to be used in recycling, all provincial, autonomous region and municipal, and local, city and county distribution companies may directly contact Changchun Film Studio, Beijing Film Development, Printing and Recording Technology Factory or Shanghai Film Technology Company for purchase methods, the extracted silver shall be sold to the People’s Bank of China according to relevant State regulations, and may not be sold to individuals or other work units.
(4) The economic benefits of discarding and desilvering, or use in recycling revert to the relevant provincial, autonomous region and municipal, and local city and county companies.
V, China Film Company, all provincial, autonomous region and municipal, and local city and county distribution companies, all film studies must strengthen cooperation according to these Regulations, and do well the settling work of distribution rights for all sorts of films from 1 October 1949 to 30 June 1993. According to the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”, all film producing work units and China Film Company, all levels’ film distribution companies must strengthen copyright protection work, work units and individuals not having obtained distribution rights for films and their reproductions may all not reproduce, sell, rent, lend and conduct cinema and television screening (broadcast) activities.
VI, All film studios, China Film Company, all distribution companies, and studios using film works from now on, shall strictly sign contracts according to the “Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China”.
VII, All provincial, autonomous region and municipal Culture offices (bureaus) are requested to transmit these Regulations to all levels’ film distribution and screening work units. These Regulations apply at the same time to film distribution and screening work units in all parts oft the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the trade and labour system, the education system, etc.
VIII, These Regulations take effect on 16 October 1994. Relevant administrative regulations and rules promulgated before this, in all cases where there is contradiction with these Regulations, these Regulations shall apply.
IX, Interpretation of these Regulations is the responsibility of the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television Film Bureau.