China / Society

Apple verdict fails to satisfy union

By CAO YIN (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-28 03:07

A high-profile copyright lawsuit involving several popular Chinese writers and electronics giant Apple is still hanging in doubt despite a Beijing court giving an initial verdict on Thursday.

The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Apple should stop copyright infringement and pay eight Chinese writers a total of 412,000 yuan ($66,000) in compensation.

The eight plaintiffs include Murong Xuecun, Li Chengpeng and He Ma, whose books are often on best-seller lists across the country, said Wang Guohua, the writers' lawyer.

The eight writers claimed Apple sold their books through its online App Store without authorization, prompting them to appeal to the court at the beginning of this year. The case started on Oct 11.

However, the Writers' Rights Protection Union, an organization representing the eight plaintiffs, said they are not satisfied with the compensation and will appeal to a higher court.

Bei Zhicheng, executive of the union established in July 2011 to safeguard Chinese writers' copyright online, said that the compensation is far below their expectations.

"We asked for about 10 million yuan as compensation for the eight writers as we first claimed in October last year, but now the amount is only about 400,000 yuan," he said. "It seems to 'encourage' Apple to go on with its infringement instead of punishing it, because the compensation won't harm such a big company."

In the verdict, Li Chengpeng and Murong Xuecun, two popular writers, received only about 10,000 yuan each, which is too low to accept, Bei said.

Neither Apple nor its lawyer wanted to comment on the case on Thursday.

Wang said the cost of online copyright infringement is low in China, but the cost for protecting rights is high.

Wang said it is hard for him to collect evidence while handling such cases, as Apple is a foreign company and it is difficult to gather materials about it.

Liu Yinliang, an associate law professor in intellectual property rights at Peking University, said China is expected to see more such cases.

He urged legislators to increase the financial penalties that courts can levy on companies that violate the copyrights of writers.

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