"We have no choice but to deem it illegal that Apple Inc. distributes materials which clearly violate copyright," the consortium of Japanese book publishers said in a statement sent to Apple's Japanese subsidiary.
The consortium includes the Japan Book Publishers Association, the Japan Publishers Association, the Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan, and the Digital Comic Association. The group claims Apple is selling pirated books from authors such as Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, and Keigo Higashino. The pirated works were allegedly created when someone scanned Chinese translations of the works, then converted them into e-books, according to published reports.
For example, one version of Murakami's 1Q84 was identical to a Chinese version available for sale in Taiwan last year, TorrentFreak said. Through the iBookstore, individuals can offer their self-published works for sale, a process that can create opportunities for piracy.
"Some of the works have been deleted in response to requests from authors and publishers but a majority of them continue to be illegally distributed. The consortium asks that Apple set up a section to handle deletion requests and piracy in general," the consortium said in a statement. "We would rather sit at the same table with Apple and work together to set new rules in the era of digital networks. We strongly request that Apple take responsible action."
Apple responded in a comment to Japanese media: "We fully understand the importance of intellectual property including copyright. We will promptly and appropriately respond to complaints about violation of copyright."
E-books are big business: Earlier this year, the Association of American Publishers said e-book sales for the first half of 2010 were up more than 200%. But as the number of paid or legitimate free e-book downloads increases, e-book piracy also is increasing. In fact, there was a 50% increase in online searches for pirated downloads throughout the past year and between 1.5 million and 3 million daily Google queries for pirated e-books, according to an October study by Attributor, which develops anti-piracy and content monitoring solutions.