The Copyright Administration of Chongqing and the Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunication have announced their new online copyright registration system which has been developed for use in China. Although a copyright registrations system already exists in China this new system, which is called DCAS, will enable authors to register copyright applications from home, and will enable the registration of incomplete works.
"In the past, an author couldn't apply for a copyright until the entire work was completed," said Xiong Zhihai, dean of the School of Law at the university and leading researcher of the system. "But it might leak out beforehand and be pirated, and the author may not be able to prove that he is the actual creator," he said.
The DCAS system allows authors to register incomplete works by creating a record and uploading however much of the work as has been completed. The author is then provided with a reservation certificate, detailing the time of registration.
The Future of Copyright has said that implementing a registration system in Europe could simplify the burden of proof in future copyright disputes and would therefore be beneficial to European countries. Generally however, European copyright disputes do not tend to turn on whether the claimant owns copyright in his work, or when the work was created, but on whether the defendant's behaviour is infringing.
Xiong Zhihai explained that "Even if the author writes only one paragraph, or just a title, he can upload it to the DCAS for the system to generate a record. If disputes happen in the future, that record can be used as evidence to claim the copyright."
In the UK the question would be whether "one paragraph, or just a title" is sufficiently original as to qualify as a work in its own right, or as the substantial part of a larger work. If so, the work would be protected irrespective of the fact that it forms part of a larger as yet incomplete work.
On that basis the DCAS system doesn't sound particularly exciting from a UK point of view, however it is interesting to see how different countries are trying to tackle copyright issues, and will be more interesting yet to see whether the DCAS system is widely used in practice.