Microsoft has always been kind of hinting on doing an app store in a proper, ethical way. But one thing it fails to do so far is to protect intellectual property rights throughout the ecosystem. We’ve seen apps with dubious icons, third-party apps robbing the name of official apps, and even phishing apps (that fake Spotify app earlier). Now rising is the problem that some developers are pirating Chinese books and submitting them to the Marketplace en mass, and apparently without any objection from Microsoft.
The book pirates, at the current stage, consist mainly of two guys:
“Loveapp”, one who packs pirated books with some kind of book-packing tool. The developer shouldered 67 books so far into the Marketplace, and seemingly has gone into hibernation for the time being. The submitted books include both classical Chinese literature and contemporary bestsellers, and translated international magnums such as Gone with the Wind, The Old Man and the Sea, of course I’m talking about the Chinese translation of them.
Another one is a developer named “nb”. He’s doing more or less the same thing as Loveapp does, only with a smaller quantity, 34 books in all.
You might wonder how I could make sure all those books in the Marketplace are pirated. The thing is that with a very complicated legal system and raving piracy, the publication of e-book had never taken flight in China. Any book authorizing an electronic version would make it to the news, and the very market condition has been stopping Amazon from bringing its superstar Kindle products and services into China (although Amazon’s online retailing business has grown very big here already). A remarkable portion of those titles belong to Shanda Literature, one of the very few online publisher in China. And Shanda, being one huge publisher, has never been known to outsource publishing works to anyone else.
The book piracy might be OK for now. But as WP7 coming close to a formal launch in China, it’s going to be a big bomb. Chinese writers are not quite known for being good-tempered about pirates, and they just united and sued Baidu as well as Apple for facilitating the circulation of pirated books. You know what? You can find the (unauthorized) appearance of book from some of the especially angry Chinese writers in WP7 Marketplace already. Hopefully Microsoft won’t appear in the court right after Baidu and Apple.
Update: Cliff Simpinks, Product Manager of Windows Phone, tweeted us regarding the above issue:
@weemundo quick note to say the right Marketplace folks are in the process of digging into this; thanks for the heads-up
— Cliff Simpkins (@cliffsimpkins) February 19, 2012