Copyright Law in the European Union, the United States and China

Päivi Hutukka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This study juxtaposes copyright law in the European Union (EU), the United States (US) and the People’s Republic of China (China). After mapping major differences and similarities in copyright law between the three jurisdictions, possible reasons will be explored for the divergence and convergence detected. Findings indicate that many of the similarities as well as differences in copyright law can be attributed to international harmonization and, more specifically, to the Berne Convention. Convergence, both through congruence and pressure, and economic concerns explain why China’s copyright law has become strikingly similar in recent decades to copyright law in the EU and the US, despite vast historical and cultural differences. The differences are due, inter alia, to the underlying theoretical differences in copyright doctrine and different underlying aims of copyright protection, resulting in differing stances on the role and existence of moral rights. The divide between common law and civil law with regard to the role of statutory law and case law, respectively, is also relevant. Surprisingly, although China leans more towards the civil-law end of the continuum between civil law and common law, the underlying rationale for copyright and the role of precedent show some traits central to a common-law country, bringing China in those respects closer to the US than to the EU. However, like most EU Member States, but unlike the US, China recognizes the existence of moral rights, as required by the Berne Convention.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalIIC International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1044-1080
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 12.07.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 513 Law
  • Comparative IP law
  • Comparative law
  • Copyright law
  • Copyrights
  • IP law


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