Chinese writers say Apple is book pirate

Chinese writers say Apple is book pirate

BEIJING- The Associated Press
Chinese writers say Apple is book pirate

A worker at the Hong Kong Apple Store presents the new iPad to a customer. Some Chinese writes say the US firm is selling unlicensed version of their books. AFP photo

A group of prominent Chinese writers have demanded millions of dollars in compensation from technology giant Apple for allegedly selling unlicensed versions of their books in its online store, a lawyer said yesterday.

The case is a departure from the usual pattern of U.S. artists or companies going after Chinese copycats. Trade groups say illegal Chinese copying of music, designer clothing and other goods costs legitimate producers billions of dollars a year in lost sales.

Three separate lawsuits have been filed with the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on behalf of 12 writers who allege 59 of their titles were sold unlicensed through Apple’s iTunes online store, said Wang Guohua, a Beijing lawyer representing the writers.

The three suits together demand 23 million (US$3.5 million) in compensation from Apple, Wang said. Well-known novelist and race car driver Han Han is among the writers taking the legal action, he said.

Apple defends itself

Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based Apple spokesman, said that the company respects intellectual property and responds to complaints quickly.

“As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately,” she said. She declined to get into the specifics of the Chinese writers’ claims.

Wang said the Chinese writers’ works was made available via the Apple Store without their permission, violating their copyright, and while Apple deleted some books after the suits were filed in January, some works quickly appeared again, apparently uploaded by developers that sell apps through the Apple Store.