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Membership Service Journey: Case Sharing - Copyright Dispute on NBA Live Broadcasting

Create Time:2021-06-30

On June 11, the Quality Brands Protection Committee of China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (QBPC) held another Membership Service Journey activity - Copyright Dispute on NBA Live Broadcasting case sharing in Beijing. More than 50 representatives from QBPC member companies attended the meeting online or offline.

Penny Sun, Chair of Membership Service Committee presided over the meeting and introduced the keynote speakers to the attendees. The first keynote speaker Victor Liu is the Senior Legal Counsel of NBA China, in charge of NBA copyright protection and provides legal support to NBA basketball cooperation, operation, and major events held in China. Steve Zhao is the handling lawyer of this case, a partner from Gen Law Beijing Office, an experienced intellectual property litigation lawyer with 16 years of practicing experience. The Guest Speaker Mr. Su Zhifu used to be a judge in Beijing Higher Court and was one of the judges assigned to this case in the appeal court. He was engaged in the intellectual property trials for 15 years, and many of the cases he handled were elected into the Top Ten Cases of the Chinese Courts.

(Left to right: Mr. Su Zhifu, Steve Zhao and Victor Liu)

Victor Liu introduced the relevant background of the case. From the perspective of the right owner, he described the ups and downs in NBA’s path to protect the copyright of sporting event programs in China from 2008 to 2020. During the trial, NBA provided a video, which showed the photographers, director, director of slow motion, subtitles director and other creative staff making individualized choices during the broadcast. NBA game programs used a similar expression as the cinematographic works and utilized camera clips to tell stories about people’s relationship and personalities. All of these proved that NBA game programs reached the “originality” standard, and finally received the court decision that sporting event programs should be assumed as “cinematographic work” in the appeal.

Steve Zhao shared two key points of the case. The first was to explain the originality of the NBA game programs to the court from legal analysis perspective. The second point was to prove the NBA game programs met the requirements of "fixation” elements and should be treated as "cinematographic work” or at least "other works". Steve Zhao also talked about the highlights of this case. He said that it was forward-looking for the judges in the Beijing Higher Court to identify live sport programs to be “cinematographic work”, later echoed by the Amended Copyright Law. The judges respected the facts and laws rather than blindly following mainstream views and showed the determination to protect innovation and intellectual property rights of both domestic and foreign owners.

Based on the analysis and thoughts on model cases of sporting event programs, Mr. Su Zhifu talked about the protection of audiovisual works under the Amended Copyright Law, which led to a broader and in-depth discussion. He made a comparison between the original and amended Copyright Law, explained the controversies and problems in the protection of “cinematographic works" under the original law, and shared his understanding of “originality” and “can be reproduced in tangible forms” from a judge’s view. Mr. Su Zhifu also talked about the outlook of the protection of audiovisual works under the amended law.

The sharing meeting was informative, elevated the level of sharing by providing different perspectives of the case and had achieved excellent results. Representatives, both online and offline, participated actively in the discussion, and the meeting came to a successful conclusion.

The member companies participating in this event were ABRO, Johnson& Johnson, Microsoft, Nike, P&G, Qualcomm, Schneider Electric, Abercrombie & Fitch, adidas, Align Technology, Allergan, Anta, BP, Canon, Caterpillar, Covestro, Danfoss, DuPont, Dyson, Genius GmbH, Honda Motor, Kering, LEGO, Major League Baseball, MGA Entertainment, Moët Hennessy, NBA, New Balance, Novozymes, Philips, S. C. Johnson& Son, SANOFI, Servier, Siemens, Siemens Healthineers, Universal City Studios and Valeo.