Apple Fined In Beijing Court For Unauthorised E-Book Sales

E-books are fast gaining popularity among masses around the world.  This is also apparent to e-books sellers, whether they belong to hardware segment or e-commerce platforms selling the e-books.

However, in order to maximise the profits, e-books and e-commerce players at times break the laws of various jurisdictions. They also engage in antitrust and unethical acts or omissions. Consumers’ rights in the e-books era must be suitably protected in these circumstances.

Recently we heard about European Commission and publishers’ settlement for e-book price fixing. We also became aware that the e-book price escalation lawsuit has been settled by penguin group. On March 22, 2011 a US Court denied the parties’ request for final settlement approval to settle the Google book settlement lawsuit. The parties are considering their next steps and are no longer accepting claim forms.

It is obvious that copyright infringement and other lawsuits are going to increase in future. The same is also applicable to India. As on date we have no dedicated e-books publication, sales and distribution laws in India. But the same can be expected to be drafted very soon keeping in mind the stakes involved.

In the latest regulatory development in China, Apple was ordered by a Beijing court to pay a total of 1.03 million yuan ($165,000) for selling unlicensed e-books. The court held that Apple violated the plaintiffs’ “right of communication through information networks”, an element of China’s Copyright Law, by providing applications that contained unlicensed electronic versions of the books. The company also failed to carry out its duties regarding the care of applications it provides online, the court said.

The suit was filed by eight Chinese writers and two companies, who said they found applications selling large numbers of unlicensed versions of their books last year, causing large losses.

The court upheld the infringement claim and awarded compensation but plaintiff’s lawyer is not satisfied with the quantum of compensation.  The writers may approach the higher court for enhanced compensation.