Apple sued by Chinese media regulator over streaming of 1994 propaganda film

in General Discussion edited July 2016
A subsidiary of China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) is suing Apple and streaming service Youku Tudou for causing "huge economic losses" through infringement of exclusive online distribution rights to a war film first aired in 1994.

In a lawsuit filed with the People's Court in Haidian, Apple is accused of enabling the illegal streaming a war film produced by the Movie Satellite Channel Program Production Center, a body that falls under SAPPRFT purview, the Associated Press reports.

Heyi Information and Technology, developers of the Youku HD app marketed by popular streaming service Youku Tudou, is also named in the suit for its part in airing "Xuebo dixiao," loosely translated to "Bloody Fight with the Fierce Enemy." Set in the early 1930s, the film chronicles Japan's invasion and occupation of Manchuria, a contentious period of fighting that bled into the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The suit seeks to stop Youku HD from streaming the movie and asks for 50,000 yuan (about $7,500) in damages, as well as an additional 20,158 yuan for "reasonable expenditures" connected to halting Apple and Youku's rights infringement.

While the monetary ramifications are of negligible concern to Apple, the lawsuit is indicative of a disturbing trend of legal woes the iPhone maker faces in its most important growth market. Apple is a large target for infringement suits in China, due in part to the country's incongruous and often subjective patent and trademarking policies.

In 2010, for example, a Taiwanese company on the brink of bankruptcy filed against Apple for using the "iPad" moniker in China. After turning down a $16 million settlement, deeply in debt monitor maker Proview accepted a $60 million payout in 2012.

A similar case in May saw Apple lose exclusive rights to "iPhone" after a Chinese court sided with a case maker that registered the trademark in 2007, the same year the smartphone launched and five years after Apple filed to protect the name as a computer product.

More recently, a Chinese court in June found Apple's iPhone 6 in violation of design patents owned by defunct Beijing handset maker Baili. Aside from being insolvent, Baili's protected designs date back to 2014 and are themselves speculated to be based on Apple supply chain leaks.

Apple also sees friction from Chinese governmental agencies. In April, AppleInsider reported on an apparent shutdown of iTunes Movies and iBooks Store operations in mainland China. The company later confirmed the closure was forced by China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.


  • Reply 1 of 15
    They're going to end up having to leave. The ChiComs are only going to get worse. 
    mwhitemacxpresstallest skilmagman1979latifbpjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 15
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,241member
    I think the state authority should take better note of where Apple produces their products.

    In response I foresee we're going to see a wider distribution of countries handling manufacturing of Apple products, namely Brazil, India and certain eastern European countries. (Czech Republic etc) We are already seeing diversification regionally, and the companies that Apple contract to manufacture are already rolling out in the above countries. This presents a problem for China keeping their massive population employed and subdued.

    Now if China wants to progress to being seen as a fair and legitimate marketplace, then protection of IP will have to be a two-way street, they'll have to put to bed their kangaroo courthouse or risk minimal investment in the tertiary sector of their economy. It's an open secret that China are desperate to move away from their unsustainable manufacturing economy - neither being able to produce the civil support quick enough (brown outs etc) or keep competitive due to currency pressure. They could rapidly find their manufacturing industry stymied by worse-off countries. So really all that China needs to do here is become "fair", by giving up nationalistically driven corruption.

     At least China don't have to deal with the same quagmire as South Korea, which owes a significant portion of their GDP and relevance to Samsung.
    patchythepiratemonstrositylatifbpration al
  • Reply 3 of 15
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,019member
    They're going to end up having to leave. The ChiComs are only going to get worse. 
    I think this is just noise. Apple seems to do worse in East Texas than they are in China when it comes down to it. Having iPhone leather goods floating around doesn't really hurt them.
    Templetonration aljony0
  • Reply 4 of 15
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    So is the government suing Baidu for giving people access to the Internet to find the film? Are they suing Foxconn for building the iPhones that gave people access to the film? Because if not there’s no reason for Apple to be bothered.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,159member
    And this is different from East Texas... how?
  • Reply 6 of 15
    roakeroake Posts: 783member
     LOL. China 
  • Reply 7 of 15
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,132member
    I hope Apple pulls a Google and gets the fuck out of China.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    TempletonTempleton Posts: 84member
    It is true about Texas. And politics here too. Everywhere. Life.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,188member
    China is totally schizophrenic when it comes to Apple. On the one hand Apple is indirectly providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of Chinese who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This lifts a tremendous social burden off of the Chinese government and shields them from the negative consequences of their own failed internal economic policies. So what do they do to build these mutually beneficial relationships? They constantly hound Apple over petty grievances and allow questionable operators on the fringe of legitimacy to go after Apple incessantly. At some point it makes you wonder how many of these partnerships are really about mutual benefit versus knowledge mining and intellectual property acquisition. If China can clone entire product lines and retail outlets, i.e., fake Apple stores, it makes you wonder when state sponsored clones of entire companies like Apple, Microsoft, GE, etc., will appear, perhaps with names like Huawei, just to pull a name out of the air.
    pscooter63jbdragonration al
  • Reply 10 of 15
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member
    Far East Texas.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Why there is no small prints in the App Store claiming that Apple is not responsible for illegal contents?  
    tallest skilration al
  • Reply 12 of 15
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Ilegal contents provided by third party apps. 
    tallest skilration al
  • Reply 13 of 15
    China has an odd culture that seems to value selfishness as an inherent quality, where screwing over someone else is perfectly fine as long as you can get away with it. From the top levels of government starting to screw with Apple from the moment it sees Apple as being less beneficial to their economy (e.g. development of robot iPhone production, manufacturing discussions between Apple and India), to small businesses screwing over each other and foreign firms at any chance they get (e.g. IP theft, cutting corners in production), to the everyday citizen who doesn't even flinch as they decimate certain animal populations based on superstition and culture (e.g. shark fins, tigers, rhinos, etc). The unfortunate thing is that there is no clear evidence that this is changing. As the rest of the world engages in collaboration and adaption with one another, China goes on absorbing and assimilating, without adapting or contributing to other parts of the world in a meaningful way.

    China might maintain a slight economic edge in some respects because of this strategy, but what they lose in collaboration and engagement with the rest of the world is much greater, I think. I agree with Tim in that diversity truly does push everyone forward. I hope Apple can foster and maintain a relationship based more on mutual respect, and less on mutual self-interest.
    ration alroake
  • Reply 14 of 15
    jensonbjensonb Posts: 530member
    Uh...How exactly is Apple involved in YouKu hosting copyrighted content..?
    tallest skil
  • Reply 15 of 15
    NemWanNemWan Posts: 118member
    In the U.S., a work produced by a government agency is not copyrightable.
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