Apple Sued By Chinese Authors For Pirating App Store Books

China iBooks Copyright

In what some may consider a hilarious twist of fate, a group of Chinese writers have filed suit against Apple, claiming that the Cupertino-based company is selling unlicensed copies of their books via its App Store, according to the Associated Press.

Three Chinese lawsuits filed in January on behalf 12 writers are targeting 59 titles for sale on the App Store, seeking approximately US$3.5 million in damages.

While initial reports on the matter assumed the suits dealt with the iBookstore, it appears that they are focused on book content distributed as apps via the iTunes App Store, which was the primary method of obtaining e-books on iOS devices prior to the launch of the iBookstore in early 2010.

While Apple has not yet filed a response to the lawsuits, Carolyn Wu, spokesperson for Apple in Beijing, downplayed the events and claimed that Apple will respond quickly to any intellectual property-related complaints.

“As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately,” Ms. Wu said.

Wang Guohua, attorney for the writers, told AP that the works in question were made available on the App Store without the authors’ permission via third party developers. Mr. Wang claims that Apple deleted some of the offending books after the lawsuits were filed in January, but apparently allowed the same content to be uploaded to the online store again.

“Some developers, with whom Apple has contracts, put them back online again,” said Mr. Wang. “It is encouragement in disguise, because they did not punish the developers. The developers could have been kicked out. But nothing happened to them.” 

Ten additional authors have contacted Mr. Wang to file complaints but have not yet filed suit against Apple. When finalized, a total of 23 authors may be represented in the action against Apple, targeting 95 supposedly pirated works.