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Authentication system needed for App Store: publishers

2012/03/18 21:02:37

Taipei, March 18 (CNA) Taiwan's publishing sector wants to establish an authentication mechanism for mobile content, after it was found that the electronic version of a famous novel downloaded from Apple Inc.'s online store was not authentic.

The matter was brought to the attention of Yuan-Liou Publishing Co. last year by Taiwanese consumers who complained that they had paid US$5.99 to download a pirated version of an e-book by Chinese writer Jin Yong, according to a newspaper report on March 11.

The e-book was withdrawn from the App Store soon after Jin Yong filed a complaint with Apple, the report said.

Yuan-Liou told CNA recently that it is the only authorized publisher of Jin Yong's novels in Taiwan and has never put any electronic editions in the App Store.

This indicates that all electronic editions of Jin Yong's novels currently available in the App Store are pirated versions.

Apple did not reply to an email asking for its comment on the issue.

However, Yuan-Liou Chairman Wang Jung-wen told CNA that the incident had highlighted "the urgency of the problem."

The development of the e-book market in Taiwan requires negotiations among the stakeholders, including the government and industry representatives, to jointly build a complete ecosystem, Wang said.

"The goal of such an ecosystem would be to create a win-win situation in the publishing sector," he added.

Pen Chu, deputy secretary-general of Taiwan Digital Publishing Forum (TDPF), said anti-pirating efforts require identifying the source, which is becoming more and more difficult in a digital world.

It is hard for people to discover that their original work is being pirated on the App Store and other sites, Chu noted.

It is also strange that these platform operators do not take any responsibility for non-authentic products, he added.

"We need an authentication mechanism," Chu said. "Third parties such as the public sector or the TDPF could take on the task of checking the validity of creative products, especially e-books, before they go on sale in the App Store."

He said that if the public sector does not become involved in the efforts, "private companies will not be able to fight litigation battles against giants like Apple."

Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang, who previously worked with search engine Google Inc., said the problem of pirated mobile content appears to be more complicated when foreign platform operators are involved.

But it is too early to say what kind of support the government could provide in such legal battles, Chang said.

Meanwhile, Wang said US$5.99 for the complete set of Jin Yong's 36 books would be an "unacceptable price" for Yuan-Liou, one of the few surviving publishers in a shrinking Taiwan book market.

A more likely price would be US$4.99 per e-book in reflection of publishers' costs and the writers' interests, he said.

"Taiwan's publishers, writers and readers have not yet reached common ground on the price of e-books," he said.

In order to address this problem, Yuan-Liou is aiming to set up a cloud-based system for renting e-books, including Yuan-Liou's 5,000 digitalized publications, and paying royalties to writers based on the number of downloads per book, Wang said.

The system will be launched on test basis later this year, in collaboration with local schools, he said.

(By Jeffrey Wu)