China next in line to sue Apple, illegal App store sales

A group of Chinese writers have placed Apple in the firing line for illegal sale of their work through the Apple App store.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

A Beijing court has accepted a case filed by nine renowned Chinese authors against Apple Inc.

In a case worth a projected 11.91 million yuan (US$1.88 million), Apple are on the firing line for selling the writers' works illegally within its App store. The technology giant is being taken to court by famous writers including Han Han, Li Chengpeng, and Murong Xuecun, furious at their work being pirated and sold by the corporation.

The company is accused of having failed to block the sale of unauthorised ebook applications, and profiting from it.


(Source: Fergus Randall/Flickr)

Speaking to the Shanghai Morning post, Bei Zhicheng, an official from the writer's protection alliance, said it was "total theft." The official believes that Apple is the only well-known corporation online that is profiteering from illegal book sales, with the usual 30% cut Apple receives from app developers.

It is reported that some of the works have been downloaded several million times via the App store, potentially costing the authors millions of dollars. One of writers has accused Apple of "stealing money from our pockets".

In August 2011, the writer Zhu Jintai became the first Chinese individual to file a lawsuit against Apple when he sued the company for the infringement of intellectual property rights. The author was partly successful in his complaint, and Apple removed the novel from its digital bookshelf.

Following this, Apple issued a statement concerning its App developer terms of service -- reiterating that they are not permitted to violate, misappropriate or infringe copyright. The lawsuit for compensation is currently pending.

In October 2011, six writers demanded 6.5 million yuan (US$1.03 million) in compensation from Apple over the copyright infringement of 23 individual book titles, accusing the Apple App Store of profiting by allowing apps to be sold containing the work without permission from the copyright owners.

The Chinese writer's alliance, who have represented many of the copyright holders, have urged Apple to consider Chinese law in their online sales. They request that copyright certification becomes standard when books are being sold by the App store. According to Bei, Apple has so far refused.

The group, in conjunction with other writers, have also previously waged campaigns against Baidu and Google, causing Baidu to delete 2.8 million unauthorized works, and Google to issue a formal apology in 2010.


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