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Writers' alliance throws the book at Apple 'piracy'

Group alleges App Store is full of unlicensed copies

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Apple’s legal troubles in China took a turn for the worse at the weekend after it emerged that a group of writers filed a 50 million yuan (£5m) lawsuit alleging that the fruity tech giant is illegally selling unlicensed copies of their books on its App Store.

State-run news agency Xinhua reported that the 22 writers, who have now formed the Writers’ Rights Alliance, have already sent a lawyer’s letter to Cupertino and claimed that Apple has been too slow thus far in taking action to remove the pirated content.

Some 95 books written by famous Chinese authors such as Han Han, He Ma and Nanpai Sanshu, have been sold in this way via the App Store, with Apple as always taking a 30 per cent cut of any profits, Xinhua said.

Government agency the National Copyright Administration confirmed to Xinhua that the App Store is suspected of piracy and copyright infringement although said it is not in a position to make a judgement yet.

Apple is reported to have released the following statement which The Reg is still trying to confirm:

As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property, and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately.

The news will come as another inconvenience for Apple on top of its legal dispute with ailing monitor and LED lighting firm Proview, which it is locked in a battle with over the right to use the iPad trademark in China.

The judges in the case are currently considering Apple’s appeal against a previous decision in December 2011 that ruled in favour of Proview but have asked both sides to reach an agreement.

An out of court settlement would seem the most likely resolution given that Cupertino is certainly not short of money at the moment. On Monday the fruity toy maker will reveal what it plans to do with its $97.6bn cash surplus. ®

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