Chinese writers sue Apple for allegedly hosting pirated e-books

The lawsuit demands that Apple pay the writers US$1.88 million in compensation

A group of Chinese writers has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the company's App Store sells pirated versions of the authors' works.

The lawsuit demands Apple compensate the writers for 11.9 million yuan (US$1.88 million) and cease selling the products. Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court has accepted the case, according to Bei Zhicheng, executive for the writer's group.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of nine writers, involves 37 different literary works that have allegedly been sold as pirated copies on Apple's App Store, which takes a 30 percent cut from app sales on the platform.

The group began contacting Apple since last July, asking the company to remove the pirated products from the App Store. But Apple has refused to remove them, stating that the group did not provide enough evidence to confirm the works were unlicensed, according to Bei.

Apple declined to comment.

Other Chinese writers have also contacted Apple about removing pirated e-books from the App Store. But the process can takes months of back and forth exchanges with Apple, Bei said. "It will often take two to three months before the pirated product is canceled. But then eventually a new pirated version will appear on the App Store," he said.

The group estimates that some of the alleged pirated e-books hosted on the App Store have reached more than a million downloads, without the authors receiving any of the revenue. Apple has told the group it should contact the developers selling the products. But contact information for the developers on the App Store is often blank, or leads to a website which has nothing to do with the developer, Bei said.

"Every month, we are finding new pirated content on the App Store," Bei said. The group plans to file another lawsuit against Apple after January on behalf of ten other authors, he added.

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