Volumes of the Encyclopedia of China. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court has ruled Apple must pay 500,000 yuan (US$80,000) in compensation to the publisher of the Encyclopedia of China for contravening its copyright in Apple's online marketplace.
In October 2010, the China Encyclopedia Publishing Company learned that users of Apple's iTunes software could, via that company's App Store, download the contents of the Encyclopedia of China to view on Apple devices.
Apple contends that although the company is the developer of iTunes and the App Store, both are under management of an Apple subsidiary registered in Luxembourg, which should bear legal responsibility for the alleged infringement.
The court ruled that Apple offered free downloads of Encyclopedia of China content. The information published on the App Store states that Apple owns the copyright and retains all related rights. The court heard the electronic invoices for "purchases" of the free content are issued by Apple and all applications available through the App Store are developed by Apple or its contract developers, thus proving Apple is wholly responsible for content available through the App Store.
Apple claims the application involved in the litigation was developed by one Zhou Lianchun, whose application was made available for download by App Store customers and that the company, therefore, should not bear the legal responsibility for the copyright infringement. The Beijing court ruled that Apple is the actual developer of the application program, since it could not prove the existence of Zhou Lianchun. The court thus ruled Apple must bear legal responsibility for infringing on the publishing rights of the China Encyclopedia Publishing Company.
A number of other companies and authors in China have also sued Apple for copyright infringement.