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Copyright practice - how long can you terminate an assignment of copyright under CN law?
Time: 2022-08-15

Copyright practice - how long can you terminate an assignment of copyright under CN law?

Allen G. Zhou | Aug 15 2022


On Sunday morning, when I was crouching on the sofa with a coffee and watching some TV shows, my friend (Kurt Saunders) sent me this captioned question via Whatsapp.

At first, I thought he was asking a simple question about the duration of copyright. So I told straight away that in China it was 50 years after the death of the creator, and then I smugly said I knew it was 75 years in the US. Then we exchanged a few more words and I found out that what he wanted to know was about the copyright assignment thing.

That was so embarrassing. I blamed the "not strong enough coffee". My brain didn't reboot my brain very well that day.

However, I was quite glad to get this question. Because I took the opportunity to learn something new.


 

In the US now, copyright lasts for the author's life plus 70 years. Assignment by the author to someone else can last for this term or can be ended after 35 years. So, if I create today and assign my copyright to another person tomorrow, the person can own it for my lifetime plus 70 years after I die, OR I can terminate the assignment 35 years from now and own the copyright again if I'm still alive by then. Also, the assignor and the assignee can agree on whether the assignment is only for 1 yr, or 7 yrs, or else. If no agreement, then 35 yrs for sure.

But under CN copyright law, there is no similar law or clause as the mentioned “35 years” above. You can yes indicate a pre-agreed item about the assignment duration in the agreement first, otherwise, there is no such thing as you can get it back in 35 years or 45 years or else.

It's always fascinated when knowing the difference, learning the difference, and telling the difference to others. No matter whether the topic is big or small.



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