China Fines Apple $118K for ebook Copyright Infringement

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A Chinese court in Beijing slapped Apple with a US$118,000 fine for copyright infringement over three titles available through the iBookstore. The Intermediate People's Court ruled that the books shouldn't have been available through the iBookstore and that Apple was responsible even though it was actually other people who apparently didn't have permission to distribute the titles that added them to the online store.

China fines Apple over ebook copyright infringementChina fines Apple over ebook copyright infringement

The parties that offered the titles through the iBookstore didn't have rights to the books, which happened to be best sellers and presumably were money makers. Because of their status, the Beijing court felt Apple should've known the titles weren't being sold legitimately, according to China Daily.

The Judge overseeing the case stated,

The writers involved this time include Mai Jia, whose books are often on best-seller lists across the country. In this way, Apple has the capability to know the uploaded books on its online store violated the writer's copyright.

Judge Feng Gang went on to say other companies should take his ruling against Apple as a warning that they're responsible for knowing whether or not a person or publisher has rights to sell the titles they offer. He also said ebook resellers need to improve their verification systems so prevent copyright violation claims.

In other words, in China it's the responsibility of ebook resellers to police publishers and verify that any titles they sell include proper copyright protection.

[Thanks to ZDNet for the heads up]

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China's culture is very different from the United States, but it still seems a little wrong that its copyright protection favors pirate publishers and punishes the resellers like Apple.

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Bill Teeple

Anyone else think this is totally hypocritical of the Chinese Government… FAIL

Lee Dronick

Baksheesh I am thinking, Apple isn’t playing ball with certain officials.


Baksheesh I am thinking, Apple isn’t playing ball with certain officials.




I also think that the Chinese government is sending a clear message to Apple that the government control the horizontal, they control the vertical, and they can reduce Apple to a soft blur; and that if Apple hope to have a prosperous and happy life in China, then they’ll need to show proper ‘respect’ and ‘sensitivity’ to the Chinese government and their concerns.

Plato tells the story of one newly crowned king (apologies, I no longer recall the name) who seeks advice from a neighbouring king on how to maintain order and rule his kingdom. He finds that king in a wheat field. That king, upon hearing the request, turns, and without uttering a word, lops off the heads of all of the stalks that are taller than the rest. He then turns to the young king and signals that the lesson is thus ended.

My sense is that despite the relative openness of China compared to 20 years ago, the government remains intolerant of powerful and autonomous foreign interests in their market.


It is hard to feel bad for Apple, or any company for that matter, electing to do business in China. US companies lobbied to have NAFTA passed so they could easily relocate manufacturing to China by the lure of cheap labor and a massive populate base (e.g. potential market). Now in China US companies have a hard time keeping trade secrets, the factories producing their goods often times also make cheap knock offs, Chinese business partners often take the knowledge learned from US companies to compete directly from them, the Chinese government controls the media and seemingly dislikes US companies, and piracy is rampant.

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