It looks like Amazon and Apple are facing more pressure from Chinese regulators this past week as they try to crack down on 3rd-party sellers selling pirated content on these tech company's Chinese websites.
The Chinese tech blog Sina Tech reported last week that the National Copyright Administration, China's official regulatory body for enforcing copyrights, will add Amazon, Taobao, and Apple to their copyright supervision plan.
This plan is part of a year long effort to reduce online piracy, both of physical goods (like the pirated paper books identified on Amazon.cn) and digital goods (like the pirated ebook apps discovered in the Chinese iTunes) as well as music videos. That last is reportedly a new addition to Chinese anti-piracy efforts, and as a result major video portals like Baidu, Tencent and Sina have been added to the initial list of 24 websites to be supervised.
Both Amazon and Apple have been the subject of piracy complaints in the past, and Apple even lost a lawsuit. News reports from earlier this year suggest that Amazon is having trouble verifying which 3rd-party sellers are carrying legitimate content. Apple is in an even worse situation; in the past year they have lost at least 2 different lawsuits in China over pirated ebooks being sold in iTunes.
A four-month long campaign against online copyright infringement and piracy was launched in late June, but in the case of Amazon that campaign may have gotten off to an early start. The National Copyright Administration has been observing Amazon.cn since April, and so far they have identified 36 third-party sellers on Amazon.cn that are currently selling pirated books. They have demanded that Amazon close those accounts and add more barriers to prevent pirates from opening new accounts and carrying on with their copyright infringement.
As you can see, China is a firm believer in the legal concept of secondary liability, a position shared both by their govt bureaucracy and by their judiciary.
image by torres21