Apple has been having a tough time in China. First, it was the issue of using the ‘iPad’ trademark, then it was about striking a deal with Chinese carriers and passing through scrutiny of regulatory authorities, now a court in China has ruled that Apple has infringed copyrighted content and must pay fine.
The whole problem ensued when an app available on Apple’s App Store was found to have published the copyrighted content of 8 Chinese writers. These writers include three best-selling authors, namely Murong Xuecun, Li Chengpeng and He Ma.
The authors took Apple to court, alleging that the iPhone maker had essentially infringed copyrighted content. The problem with this claim is that rather than placing the blame on the developers of that app, the authors pinned it on Apple. And that is tricky grounds, since it may make Apple liable for legal suits for any misappropriate behavior by any of its apps in the future.
The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court apparently didn’t need much convincing facts in this regard, notwithstanding the logical absurdities in holding Apple responsible. The court ruled that Apple was guilty of copyright infringement indeed and must pay up $66,000 as compensation.
Granted the sum is paltry for a company as profitable as Apple, it still sets a dangerous precedent, one which may eventually lead notable apps marketplaces to put in place more stringent rules. YouTube currently follows a certain procedure to avoid hosting copyrighted content – it allows content producers to scrutinize its content and send DMCA notices to take down any copyrighted material, which it does upon verification.
The same must be observed in apps marketplaces. If a party has contentions with a given app, it must notify the owner of the marketplace that hosts the app in question. If the owner resolves the point of contention, the objecting party must have no right to go to the court.