Jan 06, 2012 07:00 PM

Chinese Writers Sue Apple for Copyright Violations


(Beijing)—A consortium of Chinese writers announced January 6 that their 12 million yuan lawsuit against Apple for copyright violations has entered into formal proceedings.

Amongst the writers are the popular blogger and social critic Han Han, and the controversial author Li Chengpeng, whose book "Li Kele Fights Demolition" touched on forced demolitions and relocations—a politically sensitive issue in China. Prominent writers Cang Yue and Murong Xuecun are also among the litigants.

Under the mantle of the China Written Works Copyright Society, nine writers are suing Apple in Beijing's No. 2 Intermediate People's Court for copyright infringement of 37 works, seeking 11.91 million yuan in compensation. The group—in conjunction with other authors—has also waged campaigns over copyright infringement against Baidu and Google. In 2010, Google issued a formal apology to the writers, while in 2011 Baidu deleted nearly 2.8 million items in response to complaints from more than 40 authors.

"The download number of one best-selling book is as much as one million, which creates about one billion dollars in losses for each writer," the society's spokesman Bei Zhicheng told the Nanjing Daily.

Apple pockets 30 percent of all profits stemming from the sale of digital books, both legal and illegal, in its online store. Most consumers are unaware that the books they are purchasing from the Apple Store are pirated, Bei said.

In August 2011, a writer named Zhu Jintai became the first Chinese individual to file a lawsuit against Apple when he sued the company for the alleged infringement of intellectual property rights. He resorted to litigation, he said, after Apple refused to provide any information about Apple's developers.

Apple eventually removed the novel and issued a statement saying that developers, according to the terms of their agreement with Apple, may not violate, misappropriate or infringe copyright. The lawsuit is still pending.

In September, six writers demanded 6.5 million yuan in compensation from Apple over the copyright infringement of 23 books.

China's Internet users reached 485 million by the end of June 2011. According to the newspaper Beijing Youth, the number of people reading e-books in China nearly tripled between 2005 and 2010, to 121.19 million


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