Four Japanese book publishers have accused Apple of distributing pirated e-books, including Chinese translated works by venerated local authors Haruki Murakami and Keigo Higashino.
In a harsh statement yesterday, the publishers rebuked Apple for profiting on illegally obtained literature.
“We have no choice but to deem it illegal that Apple Inc. distributes materials which clearly violate copyright,” the consortium said in a statement sent to Apple’s Japanese subsidiary and obtained by AFP.
“Some of the works have been deleted in response to requests from authors and publishers but a majority of them continue to be illegally distributed,” the statement said.
The publishers are: Japan Book Publishers Association, the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, the Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan, and the Digital Comic Association.
Rather than sue Apple, the publishers have demanded to sit down with Apple to “set new rules in the era of digital networks.”
Pirated books include Murakami’s three-volume “1Q84″ and “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” Japan Today reported in November.
Last Wednesday, author Higashino, who, like Murakami, has not allowed any of his works to be go digital, told Japan Today that a Taiwanese publisher illegally retrieved, translated, and began selling his books through the App Store for “a few hundred yen each.”
“As a copyright holder, I have asked Apple to delete them and am waiting for its response,” Higashino told Japan Today.
The consortium also said it could not accept Apple’s policy of removing illegally distributed works after being flagged for copyright infringement. Google adopts a similar policy with YouTube, allowing the automatic upload of videos without a screen process. It avoids liability thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides a safe harbor for companies like YouTube that respond quickly to takedown requests.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Japanese publishers are so powerful in Japan that the world’s second largest electronics market was one of the last countries to start selling e-readers. Now, however, Japanese e-readers proliferate.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.