The consortium of writers acts under the mantle of the China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS), a lobby group which has engaged in similar disputes also with Baidu and Google (see this Blog here) over their online products.
According to CWWCS's spookesman, "the download number of one best-selling book is much as one million, which creates about one billion dollars in losses for each writer."
Controversy between Chinese authors and Apple over alleged sale of copyright-infringing material is not a novelty. In August 2011, Zhu Jintai, the author of a popular paranormal fiction novel, joined several publishing agencies and media organisations in a lawsuit against Apple, due to its App Store's alleged infringement of IPRs. This, as reported by the Global Times, was the first time that an individual Chinese author took action against the US corporation. Eventually, Apple removed his novel from its online store, but the lawsuit is still pending.
Then, in September 2011, six writers sued Apple over copyright infringement of 23 books, seeking 6.5 million yuan (approx. $1 million) in compensation.
As the number of Chinese Internet users is constantly increasing (it reached 485 million in June 2011), so is the number of people who download e-books (more than 121 million in 2010). Along with such a flourishing market, economic harm posed by piracy cannot be underestimated.
Zhang Hongbo, CWWCS's deputy director general, suggests Chinese authorities become involved in helping domestic copyright owners protect their rights overseas. "US authorities always press on China over IPR protection, and now it's time for Chinese authorities to up the pressure on them" he said.