Chinese authors sue Apple for copyright violation

Nine Chinese writers take Cupertino to court for copyright infringement on 37 works currently available on App Store, demanding US$1.9 million in compensation.

A group of Chinese authors has sued Apple for copyright violation and is seeking 11.9 million yuan (US$1.9 million) in compensation.

The nine writers, including prolific blogger and novelist Han Han, jointly filed the lawsuit last week in Beijing's No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, China Daily reported Tuesday. The suit covers the copyright infringement of 37 works, seeking 11.91 million yuan (US$1.9 million) in compensation.

"The court is examining documents and materials provided by those writers, as each of them has his or her compensation requests," court official Li Zhitao said in the report, adding the first trial may open after Jan. 23, the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Apple allows its users to download pirated books through its App Store and the writers are determined to fight for their rights, said spokesperson Bei Zhicheng, the executive of Writers' Union, in the report.

Cupertino's "lack of a positive response" to the writers' complaint led them to take the case to court, Bei pointed out. The books are still available on App Store, even after the iPhone maker "was informed about the violations", he said.

According to Bei, the company said the writers failed to provide sufficient materials about the infringement and the e-mail they sent in July 2011 was not in line with the format Apple required. "That's the typical reply we got from Apple, and to be precise, we received similar replies from Apple three times," he said.

Apple did not comment on the case, China Daily reported, adding that an employee, Huang, said the company was too busy with the Jan. 13 launch of the iPhone 4S in China, to pay attention to the writers' claims.

Yu Guofu, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights at Shengfeng Law Firm, told the newspaper that the case signaled Chinese writers' rising awareness of copyright violations, and would help spread such awareness among the public. "As a platform supplying online books, Apple has the responsibility to review the products on its platform," Yu told China Daily.

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