China Issues Rules Governing Software

Text of report by Li Jialu carried by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)
Beijing, 9 November: In order to strengthen management over software products and promote the development of the software industry in China, the Ministry of Information Industry recently issued the “provisions governing software products”.

These provisions are applicable to the administration and management of software products in China (including Chinese-made and imported software), but are not applicable to software that has been developed by and will be used by units and individuals, or software developed by commissions that will be used by units and individuals.

According to these provisions, the development, production, sale, import/export and other activities relating to software products should abide by the relevant laws, regulations and standards of China. No unit or individual may develop, produce, sell or import/export software products that include contents which violate other parties’ intellectual property rights or contain computer viruses; that include contents which may endanger computer system security or which are prohibited by China from being broadcast; and that do not abide by the software standards set forth by China for software products.

These provisions have clarified the management responsibilities of the Ministry of Information Industry over all software products in China. A system to register and record software products will be implemented. Software products not registered, not kept on record or which have been removed from the registry are not allowed to be marketed or sold within China.

The provisions point out that units which produce software products should possess the qualifications of a business corporation, and the scope of their business should include the computer software profession (including technical software development or the manufacture of software products). They should also possess the qualifications and technical capabilities to produce software, have fixed production locations and possess measures and capabilities to warrant the quality and quantity of software products that they produce.

The software products made by the production units should possess all legal copyrights or approval from the copyright owner or other authorities to produce the said copyrighted material. The software production unit is responsible for carrying out inspections on the contents of its software products. Units producing software products, including units producing and manufacturing carriers of software products (such as disks, magnetic disks, chips and others), must not produce software products that are not registered or recorded. No unit or individual may produce pirated software, nor develop or produce decrypting software.

There are also regulations in the provisions that cover the sale and supervisory management of software products. In addition, the provisions have clarified punishments to deal with violations of these provisions.