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LEGAL: New Rules on Online Publishing Service
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New Rules

on Online Publishing Service

By Zhifeng Long Senior Associate &Manuel Torres, partner director of china offices

BT 201603 22 legal
Before Chinese New Year, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued rules on the administration of online publishing service which will be effective on March 10th this year. The Interim Provisions on the Administration of Internet Publication will be invalid on the same day. The new rules change "internet publication" into "online publishing service", which shows the nature of invisible service. There are 61 articles in the new rules, while there are only 30 articles in the interim provisions. These 7 chapter new rules post stricter requirements and limitations on the administration of online publishing service, such as obtaining online publishing service permit to run the business. Following we will briefly summarize the main points of the rules.

Wider Scope of Online Publishing

Online publishing service refers to providing online publication to public by information network. In these rules, online publications are defined as digital works that can be edited, produced and processed by information network, including but not limited to words, pictures, maps, games, comic, video and audio materials. Meanwhile, digital works which are consistent with books, newspaper, journals, audio materials and electronic books are online publications as well. Moreover, online data bases are also online publication, if the data bases select, organize or compile the above mentioned works. The scope of online publications is much wider and detailed in the new rules.

Online Publishing Service Permit

Any company wants to provide online publishing service shall obtain the online publishing service permit. SAPPRFT is the administrative department for reviewing and approval the online publishing service permit. The valid term of the permit is 5 years.

BT 201603 19 legalOne requirement for applying the permit is that the company’s server and storage instrument shall be stored in China. This requirement limits some companies whose servers are already stored outside China.

The requirements for traditional publishing companies, such as book, audio or newspaper publishing companies, to get the permit is lower than new media companies. For example, new media companies need to provide their contents reviewing rules to get the permit, while the traditional publishing companies do not need to provide these rules. It does not mean that traditional publishing companies do not have these rules. The authorities believe that traditional publishing companies have much more experience in publishing area and they have established a serial of mature liability rules.

Sino-foreign equity joint venture, Sino-foreign cooperative joint ventures and wholly foreign owned enterprise are forbidden to run online publishing service. If an online publishing service company wants to have online publishing service with a Sino-foreign joint venture, a wholly foreign owned enterprise, an oversea institution or a foreigner, the company shall get the approval from SAPPRFT before the cooperation.

When providing manual intervention service on search ranking, advertising and promotion, internet related service provider shall review the online publishing service permit and business scope of the online publishing service entity, which provides more liabilities on internet related service providers.

BT 201603 20 Legal
Refinement of the Online Publishing Service Management Requirements

The new rules require that the online publishing service entities should have editor responsibility rules, which include publication content reviewing responsibility rule, executive editor rule, executive proofreaders rule and other management rules. These rules will be implemented with reference to Books Quality Guarantee System.

Publishing an online game shall submit application to administrative authority and obtain an approval from SAPPRFT. If an online publishing service entity provides oversea publication online, the entity shall be authorized with the copyright. If an entity provides an oversea online game, it shall not only obtain the copyright of the game, but also the approval from SAPPRFT on the game.

Online publishing service entities shall file all published works, publishing date, website or domain name. The record shall be saved for 60 days and be provided to competent authorities when it is required.

Annual check is applied to online publishing service entities. The provincial authority is in charge of the annual check for the entities under its jurisdiction and shall file the result to SAPPRFT. The annual check will check the incorporation of the entity, filed program, publishing and operation situation, publishing quality, internal management, etc. The entity shall also have self-annual check on the execution of policies and laws, reward and punishment, website publication, management and operation and other situation.

BT 201603 21 legal

From these rules we can see that the government is encouraging traditional publishing entities to operate online publishing service. These rules will speed up the healthy development of both traditional publishing entity and new media. Meanwhile, the government is limiting the foreign investment to involve in online publishing service. Further, there will be more new requirements and approval from new rules, so the development of online publishing service will be under stricter control from authority.


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