China's Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of Justice recently issued a joint notice, Opinions on the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Intellectual Property Infringement, clarifying issues of jurisdiction, evidence collection, and chain of custody in IPR infringement cases as well as how to legally determine whether suspects had a profit-seeking motive.
According to the notice, individuals who transmit another individual's copyrighted works (including text, audio, video, images, software, and other works) via information networks without permission are subject to prosecution under Article 217 of the criminal code ("Other Serious Violations") under any of the following circumstances: if the illegal operations have a total value of RMB 50,000 or more; if an aggregate total of 500 or more pirated items have been transmitted; if pirated content has been accessed 50,000 times or more; or if pirated content is distributed over a membership-only network of 1,000 members or more. If none of these standards are met, but if two or more violations each meet 50% or more of the above standards, it is prosecuted as if one standard or more has been fully met.
According to Article 217, IPR infringement for profit is punishable by fines and up to three years in prison.
Besides cases where an individual sells copyright content, IPR infringement cases are to be classified as "for-profit" under the following circumstances:
1. Using pirated content to sell paid advertising or bundled third-party products directly or indirectly;
2. Selling advertising directly or indirectly on websites that host pirated content provided by the proprietor or users;
3. Accepting fees for registration or other services on membership-only network hosting pirated content;
4. Other circumstances where other individuals' content is used without permission for profit.