Apple's China problems continue to pile up and up. The state-owned Shanghai Animation Film Studio has filed a $530,000 lawsuit against the company for the distribution of 110 of its cartoons. The only hiccup is that these cartons are not directly distributed through iTunes but rather through a third party app made available through the digital market.
"Shanghai Animation Film Studio, China's first and official animation factory, sued Apple for hosting applications containing unlicensed versions of their works on its App Store that were available for download, demanding a total compensation of 3.3 million yuan (around $530,000 USD) from Apple for violating the copyrights of their 110 works."
Piracy in China? Go figure.
Apple refused to comment on the issue to Chinese state-media, but the animation studio released a press statement stating that this is "just a litigation" despite Apple's "sensitive period" in China.
"We want to keep tight-lipped on this case because, as we see it, it's just a litigation in which we want to get compensation [for our product]. It's a sensitive period now since Apple is a big multinational company and it is surrounded by controversies on its practices in China."
Chinese media and government officials have been coming down hard on Apple now that their plan to expand in the world's most populated country have begun to show signs of roots. The iPhone crawled its way back into the Top 5 best selling phones last year, and roughly the same time this was announced, the state media began to crunch down on Apple's unfair guarantee policies, leading to an apology from Tim Cook to the people of China.
But give them an inch and they'll take a mile. In a country where the government controls everything, especially the opinions of the people through state-media, Apple does not have the footing to play hardball with the government. If it wants to compete in the world's most populated country, it can expect to be nickle-and-dimed through lawsuits, everything from $60 million for patent infringement on the iPad to $82,000 for unauthorized sale of a Chinese Encyclopedia.
This $530,000 could be just another fee or penalty for cutting into the Chinese phone profits. Or it could be a legitimate lawsuit and Apple deserves to be sued for distributing Calabash Brothers and Black Cat Detective through third party applications. You decide.