In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, online education has gained
popularity due to the need for reduced travel. But industrial insiders
said the emerging sector has much to tackle regarding copyright
Market consultancy iiMedia Research forecast that the
number of domestic users receiving online training will reach 309
million. Its market scale is expected to achieve 453.8 billion yuan
($63.97 billion) in 2020, according to China Intellectual Property News.
Jia, legal counsel of tutoring service provider TAL Education Group,
spoke at a recent seminar on intellectual property concerning online
education in Beijing. He said that the company has filed complaints with
an e-commerce platform, had more than 14,000 links carrying
unauthorized courseware deleted and 274 involved stores shutdown since
However, infringements are continuing, Wei added.
large number of pirated course videos are sold for lower prices in
corners of online platforms, he said. "It costs only 50 yuan for a link
loaded with a huge number of online class videos, involving countless
The same thing happened to online education platform Yuanfudao.
manager at Yuanfudao told China Intellectual Property News that the
company has spotted illegal sales of its course resources on third-party
These unauthorized resources are normally shared by
links or network disks, the manager said.Zhu Ge, a judge from the
Beijing Internet Court, said that in judicial practices, online courses
can be protected as oral work and teaching materials and test papers as
Videos of online courses can also be protected as creations similar to films, Zhu added.
online courses can be protected under the Copyright Law, offenders try
to get around the legal issue by insisting they are for schooling,
rather than commercial purpose. According to Copyright Law, a small
number of copies of published works is allowed for schooling, scientific
research or translation, given that they cannot be published for
distribution. In those cases, statutory licensing requires neither
permission by or royalties paid to copyright owners.
Wang Qian, a
law professor at East China University of Political Science and Law,
said that the use of the works as teaching materials can take place both
in the classroom and on cyberspace.
The Copyright Law allows for
exceptions－including school textbooks－based on the principle of
rational use, yet puts a limit on the range for such use.
case of online training, works are banned from being directly used as
teaching materials without authorization. Although they can be cited as
examples in the teaching process, which constitutes a rational use, they
are subject to stringent requirements, Wang said.
But, the judge
noted, the translation, reproduction and network distribution of
courseware should be conducted in accordance with laws and regulations.
This helps avoid any risk of unfair market competition or causing damage
to copyright owners.
Online education requires a vast number of
works and it is hard to obtain authorization from authors one by one,
said Qi Lei, a judge from the Beijing High People's Court.
Qi suggested online education practitioners properly manage their works authorization and brands.