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Chinese Court Orders Apple to Pay $165K in Copyright Dispute

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Last Thursday, a Chinese court ruled Apple to pay 1.03 million Yuan, or about $165,000, to a group of writers. The said writers claim that their work was pirated and sold through the App Store.

Apple vs. CWWCS

A judge from Beijing’s Second Intermediate People’s Court found Apple to be liable for the sale of unlicensed works by eight local writers. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the unlicensed works were repurposed as an application and was distributed through the App Store.

Attorneys for the writers also argued that the software available on Apple’s App Store contains unlicensed digital copies of their books.

In relation to this, the fine will be meted out to the group of writers and two companies involved in the case. However, last Thursday’s decision is far from the requested compensatory damages claimed by the China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS). The group of writers filed a revised claim in February, which asks for 23 million Yuan or almost double the original claims.

Prior to this, the group asserted that the iPhone maker is aware of the pirated versions since July 2011. However, they were slow to remove the offending apps from their online store. The Cupertino-based company is said to have informed the group to contact the developers of the pirated app, but it was not verified.

On the other hand, Apple said that they are taking “copyright infringement complaints very seriously.” They also added that their service is always updated to “better assist content owners in protecting their rights.” Moreover, the company requires its developers to sign an agreement, which says that they hold the rights to the app material before bringing it to the App Store.

More Legal Disputes in China

This is the second time that Apple has to face a Chinese copyright-related loss for the past three months. Last September, the same Beijing court ruled that the company must pay $82,600 for selling unauthorized digital copies of a popular Chinese language encyclopedia.

In addition, they had a legal dispute in China last July, wherein they agreed to pay $60 million to a local arm of a Hong Kong company. The agreement is meant to settle a trademark dispute over the “iPad” name.

Regardless, China has become a significant market for Apple, wherein their products are seen as aspiring. In fact, the company’s sale in the country for the fiscal year through September was $5.7 billion, or about 16 percent of its worldwide total.

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