Another bite of Apple

Updated: 2012-03-21 07:58

(China Daily)

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Apple is in hot water yet again after 22 Chinese authors accused the US tech-behemoth of selling unlicensed versions of their books via its online store and demanded millions of dollars in compensation.

This is not the first time the big-A has been accused of such copyright violations, a Chinese writer and several publishing agencies filed a similar suit in August, and in September six writers demanded 6.5 million yuan ($1 million) in compensation for copyright infringement of 23 books.

According to its guidelines Apple requires the developers to secure the rights to any material and certainly the finger of blame should first be pointed at the independent software developers in China who pirated the books in the first place.

Yet it remains to be seen whether Apple will successfully be able to totally pass the buck their way.

Apple likes to portray itself as a lifestyle leader, but it should also play a leading role in promoting copyright protection in China. Unfortunately at times like this, it seems it is focused solely on the ends rather than the means.

If Apple had conducted stricter examination regarding copyright affairs before purchasing the independent developers' applications the dispute would never have arisen.

But most of the books pirated by the developers are best-sellers and these independent developers would not have had the audacity to pirate these books openly and sell them to Apple, if the copyright watchdogs had barks and bites.

The relevant authorities did not comment on the incident until the writers sued Apple.

Although the authorities at various levels have made remarkable efforts to strengthen law enforcement and supervision, China still has a long way to go.

Readers also have a responsibility to respect intellectual property rights, and they should not download books they know or suspect do not have the necessary permissions.

To fulfill its commitment to protecting intellectual property rights, Apple needs to take timely and effective measures to root out the pirated products in its online store and should use its undoubted clout to be a role model safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital era.

(China Daily 03/21/2012 page8)